Dizziness (Dizzy) (cont.)

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Endocrine diseases

  • Diabetes (discussed previously) if not well controlled is one of the main endocrine diseases that may cause dizziness.
  • Thyroid disease: Abnormalities of the thyroid may also cause dizziness as a symptom.
  • Addison's disease: Addison's disease occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enough cortisol to meet the needs of the body. Cortisol is a naturally occurring steroid produced by the body and is part of the stress response (often termed the "fight or flight" response). If cortisol levels are low, a patient may experience weakness, fatigue, lightheadedness, low blood sugar, and low blood pressure.


While the body may use hyperventilation or rapid breathing to help with acid-base balance, it may also occur as a response to an emotionally stressful situation. In hyperventilation syndrome, the rapid breathing eliminates some of the body's carbon dioxide, leading to a tingling sensation in the hands and feet, and around the mouth. Dizziness and lightheadedness are associated symptoms. The symptoms may increase the perceived emotional stress and cause even more hyperventilation. In severe hyperventilation, carbon dioxide levels drop enough to cause carpopedal spasm, in which the hands and feet become claw-like and difficult to move. Symptoms of hyperventilation resolve relatively quickly once the breathing rate returns to normal.

Hyperventilation is not always an emotional response. People with asthma, exacerbations of COPD, congestive heart failure, and pneumonia also may breathe quickly to help maintain oxygen levels in the bloodstream. Hyperventilation is also present whenever the body becomes acidotic; the rapid breathing is one correction method that the body uses to regulate its acid-base balance.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/27/2015

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