Rising out of my backbend in yoga class, the world shifted, leaving my mind and body reeling from the dizziness. Luckily my knees were planted firmly on the ground so I did not topple over, but it was disorienting and very unpleasant. As I turned around to lie down in shavasana, I knew it was the start of my least favorite time of the year.
Each November as the weather turns colder, my seasonal tinnitus spikes and the seasonal spins make their unwelcome appearance. It is always a rough period of time as my body acclimates to the changes in temperature and atmospheric pressure that come with winter.
Tinnitus and Vertigo Are Seasonal
It turns out that I am not alone in my seasonal suffering. According to a March 2016 study in the Journal of Otology, vertigo is in fact seasonal. The researchers found statistically significant seasonal variation in benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) which is rotational vertigo induced by head position changes. The correlation of BPPV with temperature and atmospheric pressure changes was also statistically significant. In other words, this type of vertigo comes and goes with the weather.
The study also showed meaningful links between BPPV and many other factors, including sex and age. For example BPPV was found to be most prevalent in middle-aged women. The report also cited other studies linking BPPV to lower levels of vitamin D, lower bone density (perhaps as a result of a more sedentary lifestyle in the winter), and nasal allergies. None of this is good for me, a 50+ year-old woman living in NYC.
How to Manage Seasonal Spikes in Dizziness
Vertigo can be quite debilitating, especially in extreme cases. I am lucky that my vertigo remains mild and seasonal. For much of the year, it is not a factor. During the seasonal spins, I use a variety of strategies to lesson its impact.
It’s hard to jump from activity to activity when you feel dizzy and nauseous, so I force myself to slow down, take breaks, and moderate my schedule. It can be frustrating, particularly as the holiday season revs up, but it can also be a good excuse for moderation.
Abrupt head movements can bring on a sudden bout of dizziness, so I move as mindfully and methodically as I can. I take extra time to shift position, to stand up or to lie down, hoping not to shock my system. During my yoga practice, I move in and out of backward and forward bends very slowly, and if I need to, I skip the postures that seem to aggravate the condition.
While I don’t feel a noticeable impact from changes in diet, the Mayo Clinic suggests avoiding caffeine, alcohol, salt and tobacco to help curb dizziness. Mayo Clinic recommends avoiding driving or operating heavy machinery in case a bout of dizziness appears without warning.
When feeling dizzy, lying down in the dark with my eyes closed can help lessen the sensation. Thankfully, my seasonal spins usually pass after a few weeks, so mostly, I try to wait as patiently as possible until life returns to normal.
Readers, do you experience bouts of seasonal dizziness?