Dizziness refers to a feeling of being woozy, disoriented, & feeling like fainting or passing out. Some people can experience dizziness as a sort of woozy feeling with a little bit of feeling unbalanced, while some others can experience it as a full-on episode of fainting and losing their balance. In some cases, dizziness can even make a person fall down & lead to some injuries. Dizziness is rarely a disease or disorder in itself; it’s rather a symptom of some underlying disorder or illness. Injuries to the head or blunt force trauma too can sometimes be a dizziness causes. In most cases, dizziness isn’t fatal or dangerous, & usually resolves on its own. However, in some cases, dizziness might signal a potentially serious underlying issue that you must give immediate medical attention to.
Dizziness is quite common in the adult population & is the number one reason adults visit their doctors. Dizziness is less commonly seen in children due to their stronger immune systems and disease-fighting mechanisms. However, it’s not completely unheard of. Dizziness in children can present as a slightly woozy feeling, fainting, or losing balance. It can also be seen as nausea, & a child feeling too hot, uncomfortable, or sweaty in normal temperatures & surroundings.
Dizziness in children is treated the same way as dizziness in adults. A combination of dizziness medicines, dizziness exercises, & dizziness home remedies is generally useful for dizziness treatment in children. Rarely, surgical intervention may be used if there is a pressing need for it.
Dizziness symptoms in children:
Dizziness symptoms in children are generally quite similar to those in adults. However, there are some marked differences as very small kids might be unable to express feelings of dizziness, vertigo, & other balance problems.
Hence, parents should be on the lookout for these dizziness symptoms & presentations in children:
- A feeling of fainting
- Unable to maintain balance & position
- Feeling nauseous
- Abnormal eye movements; eyes darting back & forth or up & down, also known as nystagmus
- Unable to walk in a straight line
- Falling down or injuring themselves frequently
- Migraine headaches along with photosensitivity (sensitivity to light) or phonophobia(sensitivity to sound)
- A feeling of the surroundings spinning or moving around, motion sickness even without any external input
It’s also important to remember that very small children can find it difficult to convey what they’re feeling to their parents. In these cases, parents should reserve their judgment on their intuition and the above-mentioned symptoms.
In case a child shows the following symptoms along with dizziness:
- High fever, above 100 degrees
- Sweating too profusely
- Inability to move hands, feet, or fingers
- Paralysis in muscles or certain muscle groups
- Drooping on one side of the body or face
- Slurred speech or loss of speech
- Hearing loss
- Blurred or double vision
- Loss of consciousness
- Heart palpitations
- High or too low blood pressure
- Low oxygen saturation
It’s mandatory that you take them to a doctor immediately, as these can be signs of a potentially serious & life-threatening condition.
Dizziness causes in children:
Dizziness causes in children are often the same as in adults. A few dizziness causes can be different as adults have a different level of bodily functions than children.
Some of the most common dizziness causes in children include:
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo(BPPV):
BPPV is one of the most common dizziness causes in adults, accounting for about 80% of all cases. Although it is rare in kids, it is nevertheless seen in some children. When BPPV occurs in children, it is known as BPPV of childhood. BPPV causes sudden dizziness, spinning sensations, motion sickness, nausea, vomiting, along nystagmus and occasional migraine headaches with photosensitivity. BPPV is caused by the displacement of calcium crystals inside the middle ear, into the semicircular canal of the inner ear. This causes dizziness & nausea in patients. BPPV can be caused by head injuries, whiplash, or a concussion. It can also be caused by an infection or the after-effects of an infection.
Vestibular Neuritis is an infection or inflammation of the vestibular nerve in the inner ear. This nerve is responsible for transferring balance-related signals from the inner ear to the brain. When this nerve gets inflamed or infected due to bacteria or viruses, it causes problems with the way the nerve transmits balance signals to the brain, thus causing dizziness, nausea, motion sickness, spinning sensations, & other vertigo-like symptoms. It is also sometimes accompanied by hearing loss & earache.
Similar to Vestibular Neuritis, labyrinthitis is also an infection of inflammation in the labyrinth of the inner ear. This again causes problems with the way the inner ear transfers balance signals to the brain & leads to dizziness, sudden spinning sensations, nausea, motion sickness, & more. Labyrinthitis is also generally caused by bacteria or viruses, & can also occur as part of an ongoing infection.
Middle ear infection:
Middle ear infections are one of the leading dizziness causes in children, as they are not quite as common in the adult population. In the Middle ear infections are caused by bacteria or viruses, & are generally more painful than other infections. They don’t normally cause hearing loss but can come along with high fevers, sweating, nausea, & earache.
Meniere’s Disease is an inner ear disorder caused by an excessive level of fluid inside the ears. It causes symptoms like feeling of pressure inside the ears, tinnitus(a ringing, buzzing, or hissing sound in the ears), dizziness, hearing loss, & nausea.
Other less common dizziness causes in children are certain autoimmune conditions like lupus, vascular deformities, multiple sclerosis, & any other central nervous system disorders.
Other dizziness causes in children include:
- Standing too long in one place
- Standing up suddenly
- Low oxygen levels when running or exercising heavily
- Soaking in too much sun or sitting in hot water tubs for too long
- Sweating due to sports or other high-intensity activities
- Too intense fasting or fasting for longer periods of time
- High fever
- Motion sickness
- Viral infections
- Serious or severe vertigo
There are usually three levels of dizziness in children. These are:
- Mild: In mild dizziness, a child experiences occasional dizziness with or without nausea, motion sickness, or other kinds of vertigo.
- Moderate: Moderate dizziness is when your child experiences frequent dizziness, feel like fainting or passing out, & motion sickness while playing sports or other activities
- Severe: Severe dizziness is when your child can’t stand or sit up without falling down, experiences frequent dizziness attacks, faints or passes out quite often, & requires constant support to walk or perform other activities.
How is dizziness diagnosed?
A doctor will usually look at your child’s symptoms, medical history, overall health, & determine if they are suffering from dizziness, along with the exact causes for it. Usually, they will use a battery of tests to zero in the exact cause of dizziness. These tests include:
- Checking for family history of migraine
- Physical examination of the ears & the head
- Audiometry or hearing tests
- Vestibular function tests like the Rotary Chair testing
- Electronystagmography test(ENG). It uses electrodes placed above & below your child’s eyes to check for nystagmus or abnormal eye movements
- Electroencephalography(EEG) tests, to check brain activity in your child’s brain
- Blood tests to check for signs of any ongoing infections
- Imaging tests like CT scans, MRI scans, & X-rays
- Vestibular-ocular tests that involve games & gaze fixation exercises
- Dynamic visual acuity test, to shake your child’s head on cue too quickly
- Coordination & motor skill tests that involve skipping, jumping, hopping etc. with eyes closed.
Dizziness treatment usually depends on the exact dizziness caused by your child’s dizziness. In many cases, dizziness can go away on its own without any need for medical intervention. However, in cases of moderate to severe dizziness, where your child is unable to perform basic functions without difficulty & falling down, treatment is needed.
An ENT specialist or a trained vertigo & dizziness specialist(depending on the cause of your child’s dizziness), will draw out a specific plan for your child’s dizziness treatment.
Your child’s dizziness treatment will ideally include:
- Medications including antibiotics & antivirals for infections, dizziness medicines to relieve dizziness, nausea medications to relieve nausea, & motion sickness medicines to control motion sickness in your child.
- Anti-seizure or antidepressant medications to prevent seizures & the symptoms of migraine-associated vertigo
- Behavioral modifications & certain lifestyle changes, including avoiding positions that may cause vertigo & dizziness attack in your child, and staying away from activities that may cause injuries to your child as well as accidents.
- Dizziness exercises like the Epley Maneuver & the Semont Maneuver to relieve dizziness and vertigo in your child.
- Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy to train your child to compensate for the loss in the natural vestibular function & rely more on other organ systems like the legs & the eyes to maintain balance & posture.
- Certain home remedies like sleeping 8 hours a day, drinking plenty of water, & intaking a healthy lifestyle full of vitamins, nutrients, minerals, & essential food groups are also important in dizziness treatment in children.