Recently a passenger caused commotion when he stepped off a taxi and fell down head first in the road on Jinja Road. Concerned onlookers rushed to his rescue and carried him out of harm’s way. When he finally regained consciousness a few minutes later, he looked confused and could not remember how he ended up on the verandah. Because the man recovered so fast, onlookers chalked the incident to dizziness.

According to Dr James Edward Kakungulu, a general physician at Lifemate Hospital in Ntinda, dizziness is a broad term that has no specific medical meaning but can be serious. “When one feels dizzy, it is usually a sign that there is something interfering with blood flow to the brain. For instance when malaria parasites invade the red blood cells causing them to rapture, they cause clumping of the healthy red blood cells hence blocking the flow of blood to the brain causing dizziness,” Dr. Kakungulu explains.

Another cause of dizziness is when the brain is responding to an infection in the body by controlling the temperature. Similarly when you are exposed to too much heat, your organs start heating up and can result in a dizzy spell. The remedy for this kind of dizziness is simply drinking water and staying out of the sun.

High temperature
Another cause for dizziness is when blood vessels in the brain become dilated, or expand, due to high temperature. This is usually a result of the non-infective causes such as high blood pressure which compromises the flow of the blood to the brain.
Concussions and viral infections which affect the passages in your middle and inner ear can cause temporary dizziness too. These go away as the infection or the concussion heals. Since most infections last for a few weeks you will only be dizzy for that amount of time.

Medication
According to Dr George Bwesigye, a general physician at Najjera Hospital, sometimes temporary dizziness is caused by medication. Drugs such as calcium channel blockers which relax and enlarge blood vessels lower the pressure to the brain thus resulting in dizziness. Antihistamines too which depress the nervous system cause dizziness and drowsiness.

This only lasts for as long as you are taking that drug. Dr Kakungulu says when a person is over using the brain it causes an influx of many chemicals in the blood that make one hyperactive thereby affecting their sleep patterns which results in brain fatigue, hence dizziness.

Anemia is also a common cause of dizziness. Anemia is a blood disorder where one does not have enough hemoglobin in their red blood cells. “Hemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen from your lungs to your cells. With a lack of hemoglobin, your cells do not receive enough oxygen. When your brain does not receive enough oxygen, it begins to struggle,” Dr. Kakungulu explains.

The red flag
Dr Bwesigye urges anyone who experiences recurrent dizziness to seek medical attention. “If someone has a history of blood pressure and you get dizzy, it is imperative that you seek medical attention because there is possibility you are going into hypotension. If on a previous visit the doctor told you to watch your pressure and you experience recurrence of dizzy spells, see a doctor because it means you are probably hyper intensive,” the doctor advises.

Because all the possible causes of dizziness are symptoms of a bigger problem that can be managed if caught early, it is therefore advisable to do at least three routine checkups a year.

Chronic dizziness
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo is a very mild dizziness that can last for years. You experience dizziness and nausea most commonly when sitting or standing up from a prone position.

The change in position or altitude causes your inner ear to have balance problems. This delay in the adjustment of your body to your new position causes confusion in your brain until it settles. It can be cured in a number of ways including specialised muscular treatment.