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  • Writer's pictureCasey McNamara

Understanding Dizziness in Women: Top 5 Causes Explained by a Physical Therapist

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

woman experiencing dizziness


Dizziness is a common and often unsettling sensation that affects people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. However, it seems to be more prevalent among women, and understanding its underlying causes is crucial for effective management and treatment. As a seasoned physical therapist, I am here to shed light on the top five causes of dizziness in women, offering insights into how these issues can be addressed through a holistic approach.

1. Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, or BPPV, is one of the leading causes of dizziness in women. This condition occurs when tiny calcium crystals in the inner ear become dislodged and disrupt the normal balance signals. As a result, simple head movements, like turning over in bed or looking up, can trigger intense episodes of vertigo. BPPV can often be diagnosed through a series of specific head maneuvers performed by a physical therapist or healthcare professional.

Management: A physical therapist can guide women through a series of canalith repositioning maneuvers to help relocate the misplaced crystals. These maneuvers, such as the Epley maneuver, aim to alleviate symptoms by moving the crystals to a less sensitive part of the inner ear. Home exercises that encourage gradual movement and balance training can also aid in the recovery process.

2. Vestibular Migraines

Vestibular migraines are another common culprit behind dizziness in women. These migraines are unique as they are accompanied by dizziness or vertigo, often without a severe headache. The exact cause of vestibular migraines is still under investigation, but they are believed to result from abnormal brain activity affecting the inner ear's balance systems.

Management: A multidisciplinary approach is vital for managing vestibular migraines. Physical therapists can assist by implementing vestibular rehabilitation therapy. This specialized form of therapy involves tailored exercises to gradually improve balance and reduce sensitivity to motion triggers. Identifying migraine triggers, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, and stress management techniques can also complement the treatment plan.

3. Orthostatic Hypotension

Orthostatic hypotension refers to a sudden drop in blood pressure when transitioning from lying down to standing up. Women are particularly susceptible, especially during pregnancy or due to hormonal fluctuations. This drop in blood pressure can lead to feelings of lightheadedness or dizziness.

Management: Encouraging slow and gradual changes in position, staying hydrated, and consuming an adequate amount of dietary salt can help manage orthostatic hypotension. Physical therapists may recommend specific exercises that enhance blood circulation and promote cardiovascular health.

4. Anxiety and Stress

Mental health plays a significant role in physical well-being, and dizziness can often be triggered by anxiety and stress. Women are more prone to experiencing anxiety and panic disorders, which can lead to sensations of dizziness or lightheadedness.

Management: Addressing the root causes of anxiety and stress is crucial. Physical therapists can incorporate relaxation techniques, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness practices into their sessions. These strategies not only help manage dizziness but also promote overall mental and emotional well-being.

5. Meniere's Disease

Meniere's Disease is a chronic inner ear disorder that affects both hearing and balance. While its exact cause is still debated, hormonal fluctuations and immune system issues may contribute to its development in women. Symptoms include severe vertigo, fluctuating hearing loss, tinnitus, and a feeling of fullness in the ear.

Management: A comprehensive approach involves dietary changes, stress management, and medications to alleviate symptoms. Physical therapists can assist with vestibular rehabilitation to improve balance and reduce the impact of vertigo episodes.


Dizziness in women is a multifaceted issue that can arise from various physical and psychological factors. As a physical therapist, my goal is to empower women by helping them understand the underlying causes of their dizziness and providing effective management strategies. By addressing these causes holistically, we can improve not only their balance and comfort but also their overall quality of life.

Remember, if you or someone you know is experiencing persistent dizziness, it's essential to consult a healthcare professional, preferably a physical therapist with expertise in vestibular rehabilitation, to receive a personalized assessment and treatment plan.

Warm regards,

Casey McNamara, PT, DPT


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