Updated: Nov 2, 2021
Have you ever been light-headed or dizzy? A little bit? A lot? Enough to pass out? What about after exercise (1)? When you change positions (2)?
Dizziness can include feeling faint, weak or unsteady. When dizziness makes you feel like your surroundings are spinning or moving, then it’s called vertigo.
What's going on in your nervous system here?
This month we’ve been discussing the peripheral nervous system, so why did we include the topic of dizziness and vertigo?
These can still be symptoms of the nervous system, but also of the vasculature or blood vessels in the area. Dizziness and vertigo are signs that the mast cells could be impacting either neurons or blood vessels (or both). Mast cell mediators affect both nerves and endothelial dysfunction in the vasculature (3), or a malfunction in the thin skin membrane that lines your blood vessels.
In lay terms, that means that these symptoms can come from the nerves in the inner ear (vestibular system) or from low blood pressure (dilation of blood vessels). As mentioned above, both of these areas of the body can be impacted by histamine, or other mast cell chemical mediators.
Is It Your Nerves?
Studies show that using Betahistine, a histamine antagonist that blocks H3 receptors, manages vertigo (4). These results suggest that histamine has a role in contributing to vertigo.
Did you know that vertigo and tinnitus can go hand-in-hand? Both of these symptoms are related to nerves in the inner ear. Tinnitus also has a link to histamine (5).
If you struggle with vertigo, or tinnitus, consider that histamine or mast cells could be impacting the nerves in your inner ear.
You might also want to check out our blog Your Brain On Histamine to explore if some of your other symptoms are connected.
Is It Your Blood Vessels?
Dizziness can also occur from a drop in blood pressure when your blood vessels are dilated. People who experience dizziness related to blood vessel dilation can become dizzy with prolonged standing, when going changing position from lying down to standing up, or after intense exercise (6).
A condition that has been correlated to Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) that involves dizziness when standing up is Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (or POTS) (7). This disorder is also characterized by increases in heart rate, and low blood pressure when standing up. The dizzy or lightheaded sensation can sometimes lead to fainting.
Exercise can induce many other histamine mediated symptoms (8) such as asthma, hives, sinus inflammation or even anaphylaxis. If you experience any of these symptoms in addition to dizziness after exercise, consider that histamine or mast cells could be impacting your body.
What Do I Do Now?
Whether your dizziness stems from nerve or blood vessel dysfunction, exploring histamine or mast cell activation as a contributing factor, can be an important step to managing these symptoms. Check out all of our Resources.
Make sure you rule out other reasons for dizziness with your doctor. Recurring dizziness or vertigo can also be a sign of inner ear issues, poor circulation or other medical conditions that warrant investigation.
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