As if diabetes wasn’t bad enough on its own, it’s quite common for it to give you vertigo too.
Brazilian researchers have just published a review of scientific literature on that subject in the journal Revista CEFAC, looking at the reasons why it happens.
So, here’s what they identified as the most common causes and symptoms of vertigo in diabetics.
1. Systemic arterial hypertension. Diabetics have higher blood pressure in their arteries. This restricts blood flow, so organs like the inner ear get less oxygen than they should, and less oxygen there means a higher chance of balance disorders. Your inner ears need a lot of nutrients, but they can’t store them. That’s why it’s vital for healthy arteries to keep bringing them fresh supplies.
2. Obesity. People with a body mass index above 30 (and so classified as obese) are more likely to have vertigo, but it wasn’t clear why.
3. Peripheral neuropathy. Nerve damage around the body makes walking more difficult, and many people feel dizzy and off-balance with it.
The symptoms of vertigo are pretty similar in both diabetics and nondiabetics:
1. Unsteadiness in the dark and on uneven surfaces. Peripheral neuropathy makes it harder for diabetics to maintain their postures and to walk evenly when their legs are affected.
2. Balance problems when looking at moving objects. This is a common symptom for all vertigo sufferers.
3. Postural instability when moving your head or body quickly. This is another common symptom of vertigo. Since you already feel dizzy while stationary, your brain struggles even more to make sense of balance information when you start moving fast. This is especially true for diabetics with peripheral neuropathy where their legs are affected, making all their movements erratic and unpredictable.
4. Stumbling and falling. Previous studies have found that obese people are more likely to fall, and they struggle to carry out normal daily tasks. Diabetics with peripheral neuropathy also fall more often than those with normal nerve function, because it’s harder for them to walk evenly.
This study underlines yet another reason why maintaining a healthy weight is so important. It helps to prevent diabetes, which then helps to keep vertigo at bay.
It’s also a reminder that the body works as a complete system, where all the various parts need to be healthy for everything to work together properly.
Vertigo may be an inner ear disorder, but it’s not just caused by problems with your ears.