Dizziness can affect any person, of any age or gender. However, there are certain causes of dizziness that are more likely to affect adolescent females. Along with headache, abdominal pain, and fatigue, dizziness is one of the most common complaints in teen girls. The exact cause for dizziness in teen girls may not always be evident to parents and caregivers. Often, dizziness is only a temporary condition that is not a cause for great concern.
However, if dizziness leads to fainting, and is recurrent, medical investigations are required to understand the underlying cause. Dizziness is often accompanied by other symptoms such as visual disturbances, lack of coordination, and changes in cognitive functions. A person’s quality of life can be impaired significantly if these symptoms are persistent. Academic performance may suffer, and even serious injuries may occur in some cases.
Possible Causes of Teenage Dizziness Among Girls
Many causes of dizziness are common in all ages and genders. However, teen girls may be especially susceptible to dizziness under some specific conditions due to certain age- and gender-specific physiological and pathological factors. However, the list of potential causes listed below is not exhaustive. If the causes listed below have been ruled out, then one may consider the possibility of dizziness being caused by psychological stress, depression, and social problems. Substance abuse should also be considered as a possible cause.
Dizziness is a very common symptom of pregnancy. It may precede the onset of morning sickness in many cases. Most pregnant women feel dizzy at some time or the other during their pregnancies. Some women experience dizziness during a major part of their pregnancies. Dizziness during pregnancy is mainly caused by two factors. One of the contributing factors is a widening of the blood vessels that supply blood to the developing fetus.
This causes disturbances in the normal circulation of blood in other regions of the mother’s body, including the brain. The second contributory factor is low blood sugar that may be caused due to a failure to meet the increased nutritional demand during pregnancy. Nutritional deficiency of iron during pregnancy may also contribute to dizziness.
Pregnancy may cause a greater strain on a teen girl than on an adult woman. Therefore, dizziness may be more pronounced in pregnant teen girls. Since teen girls are mostly not aware of the changing nutritional demands of their bodies during pregnancy, dizziness may be worse in this age group.
Read more on pregnancy without morning sickness.
Eating disorders are common among teenagers since they become more conscious of their physical appearance during this period. Even among the teenagers, eating disorders are more common in females than in males. In fact, incidence of eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa is about 20 times higher in females than in males. The symptoms of eating disorders are not always apparent to the family members of teen girls.
The emaciated appearance of an anorexic body occurs only during the late stages of the condition. In the initial stages that may span many months or years, the parents and other family members of a teen girl may not notice her unhealthy eating habits. Dizziness in these cases is caused by a lack of sufficient calories for the proper functioning of the brain.
In fact, a persistent complaint of dizziness may be one of the first warning signs of an eating disorder like anorexia nervosa. Dizziness caused by the lack of sufficient food intake may arise within a few hours after a small meal, and the condition may eventually lead to fainting. Eating disorders in teen girls can also cause disturbances in menstrual cycle.
Iron deficiency anemia
Blood loss caused by menstruation begins at puberty. Iron deficiency anemia caused by heavy blood loss during menstruation is a common disorder in women of reproductive age. Eating disorders or unhealthy eating habits in teen girls (caused by a social concern about physical appearance) may further aggravate the problem of iron deficiency anemia.
Low iron levels in the body lead to low hemoglobin levels, which affects the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. Brain tissue is highly sensitive to changes in oxygen levels in the blood. Dizziness occurs when there is inadequate oxygen supply to the brain. Depending on the severity of iron deficiency anemia, dizziness may occur either constantly or only upon physical exertion.
Iron deficiency anemia can be cured easily by improving the dietary intake of iron-rich foods. Iron supplementation may also be prescribed in some cases where blood loss through menstruation is heavy.
Read more on signs of anemia.
Teenagers in many countries have easy access to illicit drugs. Peer pressure is a strong factor in teenagers doing substance abuse. It is not always evident to parents or guardians that their teen girl may be on illicit drugs. In many cases, substance abuse may not be limited to just illicit drugs. People may also abuse substances such as prescription drugs, alcohol, solvents, and adhesive glue. The psychoactive ingredients of substances being abused cause changes in the normal chemistry of the brain.
The mental high (or euphoria) that a person may get with substance abuse is also frequently associated with a host of adverse physical and mental effects. Dizziness is one such adverse effect of substance abuse. In addition, there may be changes in behavior, mental alertness, cognitive functions, coordination and reflexes. These changes may become evident after months or years of substance abuse.
Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome
Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (abbreviated as POTS) is one of the lesser known causes of persistent dizziness in teenagers. The incidence of POTS varies in different populations, with some studies reporting an incidence of 1 among every 5 teens. When other possible causes for dizziness in teen girls have been excluded, one should consider POTS as a contributing factor.
Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome is characterized by an abnormally high increase in heart rate upon standing up. The heart rate does increase slightly upon standing up even in normal conditions. However, the increase in heart rate in POTS is almost twice as high as in normal conditions. The cause of this abnormal increase in heart rate upon standing up is a failure of the autonomic nervous system to maintain proper blood supply to the brain in an upright position. The body releases adrenalin in an attempt to normalize the blood flow. This causes the heart rate to increase drastically. Dizziness is a prominent symptom of POTS.