Can not eating make you dizzy? A dietitian explains

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Feeling lightheaded is something most of us have experienced at some point.

Although you’re probably familiar with this feeling, it’s not always easy to determine the exact cause. In fact, there are many things that can cause dizziness.

Not eating enough can cause dizziness, but that’s not always the case.

In this article, we’ll explain why not eating can make you dizzy, what other issues can cause dizziness, and some steps you can take when you feel dizzy.

Hypoglycemia occurs when the amount of glucose (often just called “sugar”) in your blood drops below 70 mg/dL (1).

This condition is more commonly referred to as “low blood sugar” and is something you may experience regularly if you have diabetes and have difficulty managing your blood sugar.

You may also experience a sudden drop in blood sugar levels due to factors such as (1):

  • extreme weather conditions
  • consume alcohol
  • elevation changes
  • skipping meals or undernourishment in general
  • not eating balanced meals that provide enough nutrients

Blood sugar comes from the digestion of carbohydrates (carbohydrates), and it is the main source of energy for the brain. So, skipping meals or avoiding carbs can cause your blood sugar levels to drop, which can lead to sudden dizziness (2, 3, 4).

If you feel lightheaded after skipping a meal and wonder if your blood sugar has dropped, other warning signs you may experience are hunger, confusion, sweating, and shaking (1, 5, 6, seven).

This combination of symptoms is likely a sign that you need to eat something.

SUMMARY

The food we eat provides energy to fuel our body throughout the day in the form of blood sugar. Carbohydrates in particular are needed to energize the brain. When the body experiences a fuel shortage, your blood sugar can drop, causing dizziness.

Vertigo is a complex sensation that can be experienced in different ways and can be caused by many different factors (8, 9).

Most of the time, when someone says they feel lightheaded, they’re probably trying to describe feeling unsteady. They may feel like they are spinning, floating, or unbalanced. But dizziness can also cause you to feel faint, lightheaded, weak, or lightheaded.

When a person feels dizzy, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s because they haven’t eaten enough.

Rather, it is best to look at the full picture of symptoms and circumstances to better understand what causes dizziness.

Here are some other causes of dizziness and some tips to help you determine if they might be affecting you.

Stroke

In some cases, dizziness that comes on quickly can be a warning sign of something more serious, such as a stroke (ten, 11).

In one small study, nearly 40% of stroke patients reported sudden dizziness at the time of their stroke, while a separate study estimates that 4-15% of patients who report sudden dizziness may actually experience a stroke (12, 13).

If you feel dizzy and begin to notice other serious warning signs of a stroke, including numbness on one side of your body, difficulty speaking or seeing, or a severe headache, call the emergency services. immediately.

Dehydration

Just as not eating enough can cause dizziness, so can not drinking enough.

In fact, dehydration can easily be mistaken for low blood sugar, as many of the symptoms of each are similar – feeling lightheaded, faint, and lightheaded (14).

Some other symptoms that can help distinguish dehydration from hypoglycemia are urine that is dark in color and produces less urine than usual (15, 16, 17).

Ear infections

Dizziness is a common symptom of an inner ear infection (11).

In this case, you may experience a more specific type of dizziness called vertigo (9, 18).

When you feel lightheaded, you may feel slightly weak or unbalanced. However, vertigo is a more specific sensation that involves feeling like you or your surroundings are moving.

You may feel like you’re spinning or being knocked over, even when you’re perfectly still and upright.

Vertigo is more likely to make you feel nauseous than other types of dizziness and can be a telltale sign that you have a problem with your inner ear.

Learn more about the difference between dizziness and vertigo here.

Other reasons

Dizziness is a commonly reported symptom of many conditions.

Here are some other potential causes of dizziness that may have nothing to do with the amount of food you ate (19, 20, 21):

If you feel dizzy for an extended period, if your dizziness gets better but comes back frequently, or if you’re concerned about your symptoms, it’s a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional.

SUMMARY

Not eating enough is just one potential cause of dizziness. It could also be related to an ear infection, dehydration, medications, anemia, allergic reaction, head injury, stroke, etc.

If you feel dizzy, one of the first things to do is sit up or lie down. Do not attempt to drive or use any type of equipment.

Dizziness causes loss of balance, which can easily lead to falls and injuries, especially in older people. Therefore, it is best to avoid standing or walking until the sensation passes (22).

If you think your dizziness may have been caused by not eating enough or going too long without eating, try to eat or drink something high in calories as soon as possible.

The human body breaks down and absorbs carbs for energy faster than any other nutrient, so if you can find a good source of simple carbs – like fruit juice, bread, a cup of milk or a little honey – eating one will help restore your blood sugar quickly.

In a pinch, even candy or something else sweet could do the trick, but keep in mind that relying on sugary treats to maintain blood sugar levels and avoid dizziness is not a healthy long-term option. .

Once the initial dizziness has passed, try having another snack that combines a fiber-rich complex carbohydrate with lean protein. The combination of nutrients should help prevent your blood sugar from suddenly dropping.

Here are some examples of snack combinations that combine complex carbohydrates with lean protein:

  • yoghourt with fruits
  • whole grain cheese crackers
  • peanut butter toast
  • cut vegetables with hummus

Treating Other Causes of Dizziness

If you think something besides undereating is making you dizzy, be sure to speak with a medical professional like a doctor to pinpoint the exact cause.

Ask for help immediately if you start to experience other noticeable symptoms such as numbness, chest pain, sudden changes in vision, or fever.

In the meantime, you can try to lessen the sensation by:

  • drink water
  • lying in a cool, dark, quiet place
  • avoid alcohol, caffeine and tobacco

SUMMARY

If you suspect that not eating has caused you to feel dizzy, find a quick source of carbohydrates to help restore your blood sugar. You may need to sit in a cool, quiet place until the feeling goes away. Stick with clean water and avoid stimulants.

Dizziness is an unpleasant feeling that may include fainting, weakness, or lightheadedness.

It can also take on a more intense sensation in the form of vertigo, which can make you or your surroundings feel like you are spinning.

Not eating enough calories to the point that your blood sugar begins to drop is a cause of dizziness, but the feeling can also be linked to many other issues.

If you feel dizzy, it’s a good idea to try something to eat and drink. If it helps, it’s likely that low blood sugar or dehydration is the cause.

However, if you experience dizziness on a regular basis, it’s best to see a healthcare professional who can help assess your situation, even if you find that eating or drinking seems to dull the feeling.

Constantly undereating or skipping meals to the point of dizziness can be a sign of eating disorders or an eating disorder.

Consider contacting a therapist or dietician who specializes in eating disorders if you think you could benefit from improving your relationship with food.

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