What Is the Relationship between Vertigo and Pregnancy?

Pregnant women may be able to help manage vertigo by eating small portions of healthy foods throughout the day.
A pregnant woman experiencing severe cases of vertigo should discuss it with her doctor.
Vertigo during pregnancy is fairly common unless it becomes extreme.
Article Details
  • Written By: Dorothy Bland
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 29 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Pregnancy causes a number of changes to the body, and the increased strain that it places on the circulatory system can cause some women to experience vertigo. Vertigo is a type of dizziness usually described as a feeling that everything is whirling. Side effects associated with vertigo such as nausea and vomiting are also common during pregnancy. These dizzy spells affect women differently, and for some the dizziness may disappear after just a few seconds, while for others the condition can be more debilitating and linger for hours. Vertigo can be just another side effect of pregnancy or may be a symptom of a more serious medical condition.

During pregnancy, hormone changes occur, and the blood vessels open wider. Blood is then more easily able to flow to the baby, but conversely blood flowing back to the mother can be restricted and cause vertigo symptoms. Usually, vertigo during pregnancy seems to be triggered by certain activities like a sudden shift in balance from lying down to standing. The excess weight experienced in pregnancy also slows down circulation and makes blood more likely to pool in the lower limbs. This can cause dizziness when rising because the heart may not be able to pump blood to the brain fast enough to adjust to this rapid change in body position. To avoid this issue, pregnant women can rise up slowly and move the leg muscles to help get blood back into the heart.

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Another factor that may be responsible for the relationship between vertigo and pregnancy is not eating consistently. Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can be a side effect of pregnancy triggered by not eating often enough or not getting large enough portions to support the pregnant mother and the developing fetus. Consequently, blood sugar levels may drop. Alternatively, the condition can be caused by gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy or in women with preexisting diabetes. Regardless of the cause, eating healthy meals at regular intervals is generally recommended to help regulate blood sugar levels.

Vertigo and pregnancy can also be caused by anemia. This blood disorder is associated with a lowered red blood cell count, which can limit the amount of oxygen being carried throughout the body. Anemia during pregnancy can be a serious concern, causing a number of problems for both the mother and the baby. Expectant mothers with anemia may be short of breath and become extremely fatigued. Without adequate treatment, babies may not develop as quickly as they should, and premature birth may be more likely to occur.

Usually, vertigo in pregnancy is not a cause for concern. If the condition is worsening in severity or frequency, however, pregnant women might want to talk to their doctors for advice. Generally, when vertigo and pregnancy present with vaginal bleeding, severe migraines, or abdominal pain, immediate medical attention may well be required.

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burcidi
Post 5

My sister was anemic even before she got pregnant. When she had pregnancy vertigo, her doctor told her to supplement with more iron. Her vertigo went away after that.

burcinc
Post 4

@Instion-- I'm not a doctor, but as far as I know, leg elevation is effective for those experiencing low blood pressure. So if a pregnant women has lightheadedness and vertigo due to low blood pressure, elevating the legs will help. But if the cause is something else, it might not work.

SarahGen
Post 3

Vertigo can also be caused by changes in inner ear pressure due to an inner ear infection. Pregnancy is a time when a woman has a weaker immune system. The immune system naturally changes during pregnancy because of the baby. That's why pregnant women are more prone to infections. So it's a good idea for those who are pregnant and experiencing vertigo to see an ENT specialist.

I did have an inner ear infection when I was pregnant and it caused vertigo. It was very unpleasant but thankfully, there are antibiotics that can be taken during pregnancy. Once the infection cleared up, my symptoms of vertigo like dizziness and nausea disappeared.

Instion
Post 2

Would leg elevation help a pregnant woman experiencing vertigo? For example, if she plans to sit for a long period of time, she could periodically change her position and use pillows to prop her legs up, which would help blood flow to the heart. This is helpful to do regardless of pregnancy, and helps prevent formation of varicose veins. Such veins may also result following pregnancy.

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