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Probable Causes of a Dizziness Headache

Aug 17, 2007
Headache and dizziness are two separate conditions. However, there are people who experience them simultaneously. What could cause a dizziness headache? Here are five probable causes to consider when the two occur together:

1. Separate conditions but one causes the other
It may start of as a headache, but the pain brings on dizziness as well. Or you may well experience dizziness or vertigo (spinning type of dizziness) and it ends up triggering a headache or making an existing one worse. Even though considered to be separate conditions, there can be a causal link. Even in terms of treatment, successfully treating of one symptom can improve the other.

2. It's a migraine
Dizziness can be part of a migraine attack. They are known as migraine associated vertigo. The dizzy spells may happen before, during or after the headache.

As with basilar migraine, dizziness or vertigo are part of its aura symptoms along with partial vision loss, double vision, severe vomiting, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), slurred speech, loss of coordination, numbness (on one or both sides of the body), weakness, and general confusion. These symptoms generally subside with the onset of the actual headache, though it is also possible that they can last for several days after the pain goes away.

Basilar migraine is very rare, but potentially very dangerous as it can lead to strokes or transient ischemic attack (TIA).

Hemiplegic migraine is also a rare condition linked to a genetic abnormality. Some of its symptoms are temporary motor paralysis and sensory disturbances on one side of the body preceding the actual headache, often accompanied by numbness or a pins-and-needles sensation. Also vertigo, double vision, hearing problems, difficulty in speaking and swallowing due to numbness around the mouth. The symptoms may cause a person to think they are having a stroke. However, unlike a stroke, the effects are reversible.

It is possible that during a migraine attack, just experiencing the pain, nausea and discomfort may make you feel dizzy. Dizziness could also happen after a migraine attack, like a hangover. Those with migraine associated vertigo also often suffer from motion sickness.

3. They are symptoms of certain medical problems
A headache coupled with dizziness could be symptoms of a medical problem you are having.

Below are some medical problems associated with them:

-Head injury

-Neck trauma

-Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ): Other symptoms include pain every time you talk, chew, or yawn. Possible ear pain, ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and hearing loss Also clicking and popping of the jaw.

-Heat exhaustion: Besides headache and dizziness, person will look pale, sweat profusely, have clammy skin, feel weak, thirsty, nausea and vomit.

-Stroke: The symptoms of stroke are very sudden. You will experience numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body, confusion, trouble speaking or understanding, vision problems in one or both eyes, trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, severe headache with no known cause.

4. They are side effects of certain medications
Many medicines have side effects. The following medications have headache and dizziness included in their list of common side effects.

-Antihypertensive drugs or drugs that lower blood pressure such as cardizem (diltiazem hydrochloride), accupil (quinapril hydrochloride), cardene (nicardipine hydrochloride), and cardura (doxazosin mesylate).

-NSAIDs. For example, Ibuprofen have listed rash, ringing in the ears, headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and heartburn as possible side effects.

-Antiangina drugs are also known as nitrates. These drugs relieve symptoms of angina which is severe pain in the chest caused by heart disease. Before the body is able to adjust to the medication, you may experience headache. If the headache continues on for a few weeks or get worse, check with your doctor. Other common side effects are dizziness, light headedness, increased pulse, nausea, vomiting, a flushed face and neck and restlessness.

The list of medications above are definitely not conclusive. There are others that have headache and dizziness listed as common side effects. Therefore, know the medications you are taking and consult with your doctor if you have any concerns.

5. Substance exposure
Carbon monoxide poisoning: It is called the silent killer as the gas is invisible, odorless and colorless. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headaches, dizziness, nausea, light headedness and shortness of breath.

Inhalent abuse: Toluene can be found in gasoline, paint thinners and removers and correction fluid. Exposure to high doses of toluene can result in headache, euphoria and delirium, giddy feelings, uncoordinated movements, confusion, nausea and vomiting.
About the Author
Joshua Peruzzi is an in-house writer at HeadacheWar.com. Discover the pros and cons of various headache treatment options at HeadacheWar.com
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