Written by Alex Fulton
Although hot flashes and night sweats get most of the attention, there are actually 34 recognized symptoms associated with the menopausal transition — including a lesser-known one, dizziness. Feeling faint or like everything around you is spinning, losing your balance and getting suddenly light-headed: these sensations could be related to menopause, and summer heat may make them worse.
Understanding why dizziness happens during menopause, as well as what you can do to support your body when experiencing it (especially in hot weather), may help you handle this menopausal symptom.
What Causes Dizziness During Menopause?
Even though it doesn’t get a lot of press, dizziness during menopause is more common than you might think. One study of perimenopausal and menopausal women found over 35% of participants suffered from dizziness at least once a week.1
Dizziness during menopause doesn’t appear to have a single cause, but rather may be attributed to many different factors. Some of these include:
Unstable Blood Sugar Levels
Hormonal changes during menopause can affect the way your body regulates insulin, potentially causing blood sugar levels to go up and down.2 Both low and high blood sugar are linked to dizziness,3 so it’s important to be mindful of your sugar levels throughout menopause and beyond to potentially prevent this symptom. You should also consider checking in with your healthcare provider to see if you may be dealing with a glucose intolerance or to check for diabetes.
Sleep issues and night sweats are common during menopause, and can cause a ripple effect of additional symptoms, like fatigue. According to research, more than 90% of women report feeling tired during menopause.4 One common side effect of fatigue is dizziness, as you probably know if you’ve ever felt woozy after a particularly bad night’s sleep. You can try to make small changes to your bedtime routine, to improve your quality of sleep and potentially reduce fatigue.
Inner Ear Changes
Fluctuating hormone levels during menopause may affect the inner ear, which plays a critical role in helping to maintain your balance.5 If you frequently feel off-kilter, changes to your inner ear may be to blame. Scientists aren’t exactly sure why, but changes in the amount of progesterone and estrogen in a woman’s body can lead to vertigo and dizziness; 6 these shifts can be especially common during menopause.
Menopausal hot flashes may increase a woman’s heart rate along with the temperature of her skin, which can sometimes trigger secondary symptoms, like dizziness.7 As mentioned earlier, a lack of sleep caused by hot flashes at night can lead to fatigue. This fatigue can then lead to dizziness during the day.8
If night sweats leave you feeling wrung out and thirsty when you wake up and hot flashes have you perspiring throughout the day, you might be dehydrated — which may in turn lead to dizziness. Dehydration can cause the volume of your blood to go down, which lowers your blood pressure and keeps your brain from getting enough blood, resulting in lightheadedness.9
Fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone during menopause can cause physiological changes that trigger anxiety, and women may also find that external factors like stress or lack of sleep can exacerbate these anxious feelings. Since dizziness is one of the symptoms associated with anxiety, some women may be more likely to experience anxiety-related dizziness during menopause.10
Many women experience migraines during menopause due to hormonal fluctuations. Migraines are another example of a menopause symptom that may cause dizziness. About 25% of people in the United States who have migraines experience accompanying dizziness.11 This sensation of dizziness during migraines is actually related to your inner ear and is most common in people who experience migraines with brainstem aura.12
How Can Summer Heat Make Menopausal Dizziness Worse?
Women who are dealing with menopausal dizziness may want to take extra care during hot weather. Just as with hot flashes and night sweats, sweating on a hot day can cause dehydration — and dizziness along with it.
While dehydration can happen at any time of year, it’s most common during the summer months when our bodies sweat in an effort to cool us down. Whether you’re out for a run or enjoying a backyard barbecue, feeling dizzy could be a sign that you need to hydrate.13
Dizziness can also be a symptom of heat-related illness like heat exhaustion, so it’s a good idea to seek some shade if you’re feeling dizzy from the heat.14
How to Deal with Dizziness During Menopause
While the best course of action will vary from person to person, there are steps every menopausal woman can take to help her manage her dizziness. These include:
Knowing Your Triggers
A good first step when dealing with dizziness during menopause is to identify what may be triggering it. Could it be linked to low blood sugar? Does it happen after you’ve been sweating a lot, or when you get a migraine? Might you be waking up dehydrated from night sweats? Keep a journal chronicling when you feel dizzy, and keep track of how you slept, what you ate, and your activities and emotions throughout the day. Once you’ve identified what may be triggering your dizziness, you can work to address it.
Focusing on Nutrition
Eating a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fresh vegetables and fruit can potentially reduce dizziness triggers like fatigue and unstable blood sugar, while supporting overall wellness during menopause.15
Staying Hydrated (and Keep Cool)
Since sweating from hot flashes or hot weather can trigger dehydration-related dizziness, it’s a good idea to drink plenty of water and avoid overheating whenever possible.14 This might mean keeping a refillable water bottle in your bag or on your desk, or scheduling your outdoor exercise in the morning or evening to avoid the hottest part of the day.
Not only can supplements like multivitamins help to fill in nutritional gaps in your diet, but also, certain nutrients, such as a specific blend of Swedish flower pollen, may help relieve certain menopausal symptoms, like disruptive night sweats,* that can worsen your fatigue; which as mentioned, can impact dizziness for some women.
Learn more about Relizen® and its proprietary blend of Swedish flower pollen, specifically designed to help ease disruptive menopausal night sweats.*
What to Do if You Feel Faint
If you feel faint or lightheaded, experts suggest lying down and propping your feet above your heart, which will cause blood to rush from your feet to your head and help oxygen flow to your brain.16 Lying down can also help prevent you from falling and hurting yourself if you do faint from dizziness.
When to See a Healthcare Provider
Dizziness during menopause may be unpleasant, but it doesn’t usually require a trip to your healthcare provider. That said, you should seek medical attention if your dizziness is persistent and disruptive, or accompanied by fainting, chest pain, trouble breathing, changes in speech or vision, or hearing loss. These all may be signs that your dizziness is stemming from something other than menopausal hormone changes.17