Dizziness when you bend over is a common occurrence. Sometimes all it takes to get that lightheaded, woozy feeling is to look up or down, or move your head from side to side quickly. Usually there’s a simple explanation. You may have skipped a meal, become overheated, or are overtired. Or you may have a cold or other common ailment.
Most causes of dizziness are not serious. But if it happens frequently or becomes more severe, dizziness can interfere with your daily activities. If your dizziness becomes worrisome, it’s best to check with your doctor to determine and treat any underlying condition that may be causing it.
Dizziness is one of the most common medical complaints. As you get older, dizziness becomes more likely. About 30 percent of people over 60 experience dizziness or vertigo, the sensation that things are spinning around you. Women are more likely than men to experience dizziness.
The causes of dizziness when you bend over range from simple (low blood sugar) to more serious (heart problems). Here are some possible causes for getting dizzy when you bend over:
If you’ve been out in the sun or exercising without drinking enough water, dehydration could be causing you to feel dizzy when you bend over or move your head quickly. It can be helpful to follow some guidelines for how much water you should drink.
2. Low blood sugar
Not eating, or not eating enough, can make you feel woozy when you bend your head down. If you have diabetes, it’s especially important to keep your blood sugar stable. If you’re taking diabetes medications, an increase in your dose can make you more likely to become dizzy.
3. Low blood pressure
You can feel dizzy when bending over if your blood pressure is low and not pumping enough blood to your brain. Standing up quickly can also make you dizzy if your blood pressure is low.
4. Poor circulation
Not getting enough oxygen to your brain because your heart isn’t functioning properly can make you feel dizzy when you bend over. This can be the result of a serious condition, such as a heart attack, congestive heart failure, or abnormal heart beat (arrhythmia).
Anemia has many causes. It can occur if:
- you have iron, vitamin B12, or folate deficiency
- your bone marrow is not making enough red blood cells
- your body is breaking down your red cells
- you’re losing blood
Severe anemia affects the amount of oxygen reaching your brain. This can make you can feel lightheaded, especially when you bend over.
6. Panic attack
Sometimes we forget how emotional stress can affect our physical health. Dizziness when bending might result from low carbon dioxide levels in your blood. And low carbons levels might be related to hyperventilation associated with a panic attack, fear, or anxiety.
7. Inner ear problems
Your vestibular system, which regulates your sense of balance, is located in the inner ear. An ear infection or injury can upset your balance and make you dizzy when you bend over.
One common inner ear problem is when a calcium particle from one part of the ear gets dislodged and moves to another part of the ear. This can cause vertigo and dizziness. It’s called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV.
If your thyroid gland isn’t functioning properly, it can cause your heart rate and blood pressure to be low. Both these effects can make you dizzy when you bend over.
9. Medication side effects
Many common drugs list dizziness as a side effect and could be making you feel dizzy when you bend over. These include:
10. Other causes
Several conditions and diseases can cause or compound your dizziness, including:
- hormonal changes with menstruation or pregnancy
- migraine headaches
- Lyme disease
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- anxiety or depression
- Parkinson’s disease
- multiple sclerosis
- peripheral neuropathy
Your treatment will depend on the severity of your dizziness and on any underlying condition.
If dizziness when you bend over is occasional and transitory, try:
- lying down and closing your eyes
- getting into the shade or air conditioning if you’re overheated
- drinking plenty of fluids if you’re dehydrated
- breathing slowly for a few minutes
Some people have some relief from dizziness, vertigo, and nausea by using ginger in food or drinks, either fresh or powdered. You can also take it orally as a supplement.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that you cut back on caffeine, alcohol, salt, and tobacco, which may worsen your dizziness. But note that you may need to consume salt if your blood pressure is low.
If your dizzy episodes are related to a specific underlying condition, the doctor will treat the condition. Here are some conditions and remedies:
Low blood pressure
Low blood pressure has many causes, from heart problems to vitamin deficiency.
You may need more salt in your diet and more fluids.
You may need specific vitamins to increase your red blood cells. The doctor may also suggest you eat a more balanced diet.
Sometimes blood pressure drugs can lower your pressure too much. You may need a lower dose.
There are many causes for the low red blood cell count of anemia. It can be related to iron deficiency, poor nutrition, pregnancy, infection, or chronic diseases such as sickle cell anemia and kidney disease.
Your doctor will order blood tests to determine what’s causing your anemia. They may prescribe iron supplements, vitamin B supplements, and dietary changes to help your body make the hemoglobin it needs for oxygen-rich blood.
Your doctor may test for hypothyroidism, especially if you’re a woman. Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have a thyroid problem. Hypothyroidism can be treated with a drug that supplies you with a synthetic thyroid hormone (levothyroxine) to bring you up to normal levels.
Inner ear problems
If you have an ear infection or an ear injury, the doctor will treat the bacterial infection or injury. If a cold or a flu virus has inflamed a nerve in your inner ear, this should improve on its own, with time.
Your doctor will also check for BPPV. BPPV is a common cause of dizziness, especially in older people. One in three cases of dizziness in older people is caused by BPPV.
BPPV is benign and your doctor may be able to treat it with repositioning movements called the Epley maneuver.
If you have chronic migraine headaches, you may have dizziness at times when you don’t have a headache. Your doctor may prescribe drugs to help prevent migraines (antidepressants and antiseizure drugs). Your doctor may also prescribe drugs to relieve migraines once they have started. It also wouldn’t hurt to try some of these natural ways to reduce migraine symptoms.
Drug side effects
If the dizziness is related to a new drug you’re taking, your doctor may lower the dose or switch to an alternative drug. Sometimes, the dizzy spells may go away on their own, as your body gets used to the new medication.
Other dizziness causes
If a specific disease is associated with your feeling dizzy when you bend down, ask your doctor whether there’s something you can take that will help. Anti-anxiety drugs, for example, may help with dizziness related to stress. Antihistamines may help relieve dizziness that’s related to other specific conditions.
When to see a doctor
If your episodes of dizziness become frequent, long-lasting, or severe, see a doctor.
You should also see a doctor or go to the emergency room if you have additional symptoms that are more serious. These include:
All of these symptoms are indications of a more serious problem.
Getting dizzy when you bend over is a common occurrence and in most cases not serious. If the dizziness interferes with your work or daily activities, see a doctor to determine whether there’s an underlying condition causing the dizziness. Most of the possible causes are treatable.