Dizziness In Diabetes: Causes and Management 

Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)
Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)

General Physician | 6+ years

Dizziness in Diabetes
Living with diabetes, hypertension or any other lifestyle disease is difficult and most often a lonely journey. With Phable, India’s no. 1 BP and Sugar Management Mobile App, you can use technology to take charge of your health. Also Phable’s one-stop-shop is here to help you manage your condition better.

Are you feeling lightheaded, woozy or disoriented quite often? These are signs of dizziness that can occur frequently if you have diabetes. It can affect your quality of life and needs attention. Let’s read more about dizziness in diabetes, its causes, and management.

Contents:
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    What is Dizziness?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    What Causes Dizziness in Diabetes?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    What to do if a Diabetic Feels Dizzy?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    How to Prevent Dizziness in Diabetes?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Don’t Have Time To Read?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    FAQs
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What is Dizziness?

Dizziness is a feeling of being lightheaded, weak, or unsteady. Dizziness itself is not a disease but rather is a symptom of another condition. Dizziness is common and it is usually not serious unless it occurs frequently or is caused by a serious underlying condition. 

Do diabetics experience dizziness? Is it a cause of concern? Let’s find out.

What Causes Dizziness in Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition where your blood sugar levels are higher than normal. Here your body is either unable to produce (Type 1 Diabetes) or utilise insulin (a hormone that helps regulate your blood sugar levels) efficiently or both (Type 2 Diabetes). 

Is dizziness a symptom of diabetes? Dizziness can be one of the symptoms of diabetes that can occur as a result of the condition itself, due to other health issues alongside it, or as a side effect of certain medications. Read on to understand the causes of dizziness in diabetes.

Diabetics may experience dizziness due to the following reasons:

Hypoglycemia

Does low sugar cause dizziness? Yes! Hypoglycemia is a condition characterised by low blood sugar levels (< 70 mg/dL). In diabetics, hypoglycemia commonly occurs as the result of diabetic medications, or due to any changes in your diet or activities. Low blood sugar levels can affect the functioning of your brain resulting in symptoms such as dizziness, blurred vision, and headache.

Hyperglycemia

Can high sugar cause dizziness? Yes! Hyperglycemia is a condition characterised by high blood sugar levels (≥ 125 mm/dL on fasting and greater than 180 mg/dL 2 hours postprandial). In individuals with Type 1 diabetes the blood sugar levels rise as your body is unable to produce enough insulin to control your blood sugar levels. 

In people with Type 2 diabetes, your body may not be able to use insulin effectively to control blood sugar levels, leading to hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia can also cause dizziness. Uncontrolled hyperglycemia can result in damage to the blood vessels and vital organs such as the heart and kidneys.

Hypertension

Blood pressure is the force that is exerted by the blood on the walls of your blood vessels . This pressure depends upon the amount of blood pumped by your heart and the resistance in your blood vessels. 

Hypertension or high blood pressure is when this pressure exceeds the normal level (> 140/90 mm Hg). Individuals with diabetes are twice as likely to develop hypertension. Common symptoms of hypertension include headache, dizziness, and blurred vision.

Dehydration

With diabetes, your body constantly tries to remove excess glucose through urine. Frequent urination results in excessive thirst and an insufficient intake of fluids can result in dehydration. Common symptoms of dehydration include dizziness, fatigue, headache and an increased heart rate.

Medications

Dizziness can occur as the result of certain diabetic medications such asSGLT2 inhibitors, and sulphonylureas. Diabetic patients who are on medications for high blood pressure may experience a drop in their potassium levels, causing symptoms such as dizziness. 

Other medications that can cause dizziness include diuretics, antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin and gentamicin, statins (drugs for high cholesterol), and neuropathic painkillers such as pregabalin.

Vestibular Dysfunction

Diabetes increases the risk of developing vestibular dysfunction. It is a condition that occurs as the result of an inner ear disorder. It affects the signals travelling from your ears to the brain, causing problems with your balance and orientation. 

The most common symptoms of vestibular dysfunction are dizziness, blurred vision, and disorientation. 

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What to do if a Diabetic Feels Dizzy?

When you feel dizzy, avoid sudden movements. Sit down or lie down with your eyes closed until you feel better. Drink more water and fluids and avoid the use of caffeine or alcohol as it can worsen the condition. Consult your doctor if you are experiencing frequent episodes of dizziness or if you are unsure of the cause. 

Other methods of management include:

  • You can use a blood glucose monitor to keep a track for your sugar levels. If the dizziness is due to low blood sugar levels, doctors may recommend that you follow the 15:15 rule. As per this rule, you take 15 grams of carbohydrates, check your blood sugar levels after 15 minutes, and if the blood sugar is still low, you take another 15 grams of carbohydrates.
  • If your blood sugar is severely low, the 15:15 rule may be insufficient and you may need to take glucagon. It is a hormone produced by the pancreas to release stored glucose and increase blood glucose levels.
  • High blood sugar can be managed with the help of regular physical activities, a healthy balanced diet and proper medications.
  • In case of dehydration, make sure that you have sufficient fluids to stay hydrated. Try to have clear liquids and avoid sugary drinks or juices.
  • If certain medications are causing dizziness, make sure to talk to your doctor about it and do the needful.

How to Prevent Dizziness in Diabetes?

  • Regular Blood Sugar Monitoring: Monitoring your blood sugar levels regularly will help you detect any sudden variations. This reduces the chances of any complications and related symptoms such as dizziness.
  • Diet and Exercise: Following a balanced diet and exercising regularly is crucial in the management of diabetes. This will help keep your sugar levels in check and avoid unwanted complications that can affect the quality of your life.
  • Proper Hydration: Frequent urination and constant thirst are common symptoms of diabetes. Therefore, it is important that you stay hydrated to prevent dehydration and avoid symptoms such as dizziness. 
  • Follow the 15:15 Rule: This is an effective way to manage a sudden drop in your blood sugar levels. The 15-15 rule suggests that you have 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates and check your blood sugar levels after 15 minutes. If it is still below 70 mm/hg have a serving. This will help prevent dizziness that results from low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.

 

Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • Dizziness is a feeling of being lightheaded, weak, or unsteady. Dizziness itself is not a disease and is rather a symptom of another condition. 

  • Dizziness can be one of the symptoms of diabetes that can occur as a result of the condition itself, due to other health issues alongside, or as a side effect of certain medications.

  • Diabetics may experience dizziness due to hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, hypertension, dehydration, certain medications (for diabetes or hypertension), or vestibular dysfunction.

  • When you feel dizzy, avoid sudden movements. Sit down or lie down with your eyes closed until you feel better. Have more fluids and avoid the use of caffeine or alcohol as it can worsen the condition. 

  • If the dizziness is due to low blood sugar levels, doctors may recommend that you follow the 15:15 rule. In cases where your blood sugar is severely low, you may need a hormone called glucagon. 

  • Dizziness due to high blood sugar can be managed by regular physical activities, a healthy balanced diet and proper medications. If certain medications are causing dizziness, make sure to talk to your doctor about it and do the needful.

  • Monitoring your blood sugar levels regularly, taking your medications as prescribed, following a balanced diet and regular exercise are some ways to prevent symptoms such as dizziness associated with diabetes.

  • Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading diabetologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate blood sugar monitoring and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Diabetes Management Program which provides ‎360º care. Let’s treat diabetes together.

Frequently Asked Questions

Occasional dizziness is not usually a serious concern. If you are experiencing frequent, sudden, severe, prolonged or unexplained episodes of dizziness along with other symptoms such as shortness of breath,fainting, double vision, irregular heartbeats, or vomiting, it needs immediate medical attention .

Some individuals with diabetes may experience dizziness after having sugar. This can occur as a rapid spike in their blood sugar levels and the resulting dehydration.

In individuals with diabetes, hypoglycemia is the most common cause of dizziness. Other causes include high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia), high blood pressure (hypertension), dehydration, and certain medications.

Dizziness is not usually associated with high blood pressure but can occur in some cases of severe hypertension. Sudden dizziness may also be a warning sign of a stroke (damage to the brain due to interrupted blood supply), which can be caused due to high blood pressure. Certain medications that are given for lowering blood pressure can also cause dizziness.

Dr. Pakhi Sharma
Dr. Pakhi Sharma, MBBS
(General physician, 6+ years)
An expert in obstetrics and medical emergencies, Dr. Pakhi Sharma, an alumni of Sri Devaraj Urs University of Higher Education and Research Centre, is a general physician working at Phablecare. She has 6+ years of work experience spread across gynaecology and obstetrics, family medicine, and medical emergencies at renowned hospitals and clinics.

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