There is an amazing collection of complaints that can cause dizziness, nausea with or without vomiting, diarrhea, racing heart, and anxiety, or some combination of these symptoms. You can't get a medical diagnosis from an article on the Internet, even this one, but here are some additional, explanatory symptoms to be on the lookout for.
- Postural orthostatic tachycardia sydrome, or POTS, is a disease of the peripheral nervous system, not the spinal cord and brain. In older adults, it is usually a complication of Parkinson's disease, but in children, teens, and younger adults (up to about age 50), it's more likely to be associated with vitamin B12 deficiency. It's a hereditary condition. Symptoms include dizziness, nausea, and racing heart, but also decreased sweating, dry mouth, dry eyes, difficulty "finishing" urination, and, in males, trouble with erections and delayed ejaculation. Treatment often involves increasing the amount of salt in the diet.
- Guillain-Barre Syndrome cuases dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and or racing heart, along with generally weak muscles and poor reflexes. It is most common in children who have had a viral infection. There have been 11 cases associated with measles immunizations, out of 65 million children who have been immunized. It is far more likely to result from some other kind of encounter of the immune system with a virus.
- Migraine headaches can also cause stomach upset and dizziness, vertigo, and loss of balance. Sometimes a migraine causes all the symptoms except a headache. This is more common in males than in females. Women and girls almost always experience headache pain from migraine, while boys and men may or may not.
- Autoimmune disease of the inner ear, which is caused by an overactive immune system, causes dizziness, nausea, and difficulty with balance along with progressive hearing loss. Usually this condition is treated very aggressively with steroid medications, unless there are some other problems for which steroids are contraindicated, such as diabetes, peptic ulcer disease, or glaucoma. Steroid treatment brings back hearing and balance in about 60 percent of cases.
- Meniere disease likewise causes dizziness and stomach problems. It is a disease of the inner ear involving increased pressure in the ear after hormonal imbalances, trauma, infection, food allergies, lupus, or rheumatoid athritis. (Technically, Meniere disease is the diagosis when the doctor cannot find any other explanation for symptoms. If you are diagnosed with this disease, at least the doctor has ruled out brain tumors.) The most obvious way to deal with this condition on your own is to notice foods that make it worse, and then to avoid them. When this disease is the diagnosis, usually a salt-restricted diet is part of treatment. Sometimes the doctor inserts an ear tube known as a Meniett device. It delivers pulses of pressure to the ear that stop symptoms.
- Orthostatic hypotension, a complication of low blood pressure, can cause dizziness and queasy stomach. This is most common in people who are just starting medication for high blood pressure, typically with too high a dose. It can also occur when there is a defect valve in the carotid artery (usually a complication of poorly managed diabetes).
- Acoustic tumors, a form of brain tumor, also cause the symptoms, usually with hearing loss in just one ear. This kind of tumor is often treated with stereotactic radiotherapy, with a device uses "pinpoint" radiation such as the gamma knife or BrainLab. It is important to get this kind of tumor treated sooner rather than later.
The common denominator of almost all of these causes of dizziness, racing heart, and gastric symptoms (except acoustic tumors) is sodium imbalance.
Sometimes increasing salt intake is required. Sometimes it is necessary to decrease it. While you are waiting to get to see the doctor, it can make good sense to experiment with your diet.
Vitamin B12 is often helpful for teens and young adults who have these kinds of symptoms. It's safe, it's inexpensive, and it is, after all, a vitamin, and it's always worth a try.
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