Influenza, or more commonly “the flu”, is an infection of the respiratory system that can affect anyone. When you are exposed to air droplets that are emitted through coughs and sneezes by a sick person, you become infected with the flu. Symptoms will appear within a few days of exposure, including coughing, aches, fever, chills, runny nose, nausea, fatigue and even vomiting. Symptoms are often accompanied by dizziness as well, but there are several measures you can take to decrease dizziness.
How to Deal with Flu Dizziness
1. Stay hydrated
When the body is dehydrated, it cannot function properly. This can cause disorientation and feelings of lightheadedness, especially when you are coming down with flu. Nausea and vomiting can cause dehydration because your body is unable to tolerate anything entering its system and you are less likely to drink even plain water. Fluid loss due to sweating from fever will also lead to dehydration.
To assuage these symptoms, adults should drink small amounts of water at a time to slowly replenish and hydrate their bodies. Children will require rehydration solutions or drinks that contain electrolytes. Severe cases may require fluids administered via an IV to safely rehydrate the body.
2. Use medications for dizziness
There are several medications available on the market that can help decrease the dizziness caused by flu symptoms. Antihistamines, like Meclizine, alleviate vomiting and nausea while also working to decrease the dizziness caused by those two. You may also take a medication called Promethazine that relieves flu-induced nausea and may also prevent dizziness and dehydration. Natural remedies like ginger and ginkgo biloba are great remedies you can use at home, but they can sometimes take a while to be effective. Consult a medical professional before self-treating at home, just to be sure you are taking the right course of action.
3. Try antiviral medications
Those who are at high risk for flu complications should seek treatment through the use of antiviral medications. Studies have shown that early treatment with antivirals can significantly reduce the risk of complications from influenza. Young children, the elderly and people who have weakened immune systems are the most at risk and will benefit most from antiviral medicines. Antivirals will help stop viral spreading of the disease and should be started within 48 hours of the first signs of symptoms.
4. Try ginger
Ginger is a traditional remedy for nausea and dizziness. Studies have even found that ginger is more effective in relieving dizziness than over-the-counter medications. Ginger stimulates blood flow to the brain to reduce lightheadedness and dizziness. You can consume ginger in the form of supplements, teas, candies or even fresh ginger root.
5. Drink honey & apple cider vinegar
Mix two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with two teaspoons of honey in a glass of either cold or hot water. Drink this mixture three times a day to help regulate your blood pressure and ease the dizziness that can be caused by high blood pressure.
6. Do simple exercises
There are easy and simple exercises you can do at home to alleviate dizziness.
- Try rolling your eyeballs around in all directions or rolling your neck around both clockwise and counter clockwise.
- You can also use fixation exercises where you find focal points to fixate your vision on. This helps your internal balance and gives you a single thing to focus in on.
- Also try blinking your eyes rapidly or standing up and sitting down in slow, deliberate movements.
- If you find that these are not working then try walking in an open space in your home with your eyes closed, then with your eyes open.
- You can also try tandem walking with another person, or walking up an incline while staring at a focal point ahead.
Do any of these exercises daily and minimize your medicine intake. You may find you do not need medicines the more you do these exercises.
7. Check for complications
The flu can lead to other serious health conditions that cause dizziness, so be sure to always check for complications.
- Often, the flu can turn into pneumonia which is an infection in the lungs causing dizziness due to difficulty breathing and a lack of oxygen to the brain. Other symptoms of pneumonia are fever and dehydration. Antibiotics may be required to treat bacterial complications like pneumonia.
- It is also possible to experience complications from a condition called myocarditis. An inflammation of the heart tissues, myocarditis causes heart failure.
- Dizziness is a common symptom of heart failure because the brain is not receiving enough oxygen. It is also possible to have complications from encephalitis which is an inflammation of brain tissues.
- Dizziness, mental changes and headaches are common symptoms of this condition. Other complications from the flu that are commonly characterized by dizziness include renal failure, liver failure and low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.
If you experience any signs of these possible complications seek medical attention immediately.
8. Prevent future infection
Flu vaccinations are the best preventatives. Annual vaccination is necessary because influenza strains change so much from year to year. By getting vaccinated each year, you can decrease your possibility of infection by anywhere from 70-90 percent. You can either have vaccines injected or opt for a method that is inhaled through the nose. Those with a weakened or impaired immune system cannot take the vaccines and should be treated with the antiviral medications.