Feeling Faint and Shaky: Causes and Treatments

An occasional fainting or dizzy feeling may be due to a brief interruption of oxygen reaching your brain. However, when the fainting feeling is accompanied by shaking, and it happens recurrently, it should be a cause for alarm and you need to visit your doctor as soon as possible. There are many conditions that are associated with these symptoms.

Feeling Faint and Shaky: Causes

1.    Low Blood Pressure

For most people, normal blood pressure is indicated by a systolic/diastolic reading of 120/80. A diastolic reading of 90/60 or lower signifies low blood pressure. For a few people, however, it is normal to have lower blood pressure and still remain healthy. They show no symptoms of hypotension in spite of the low readings.

However, most people will experience some of the symptoms:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Lack of concentration
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Cold, clammy, pale skin
  • Shakiness

2.    Medication

Feeling faint and shaky may be the side effect of certain drugs. This information is always indicated in the instruction leaflet. Such medications include diuretics which enhance the flow of urine, opiates like morphine, and hypertension pills which work by dilating blood vessels such as nitroglycerin.

3.    Heart Conditions

Some heart conditions can cause you to feel dizzy or even shaky. Arrhythmia involves abnormal heart rhythms, with fast heartbeats of up to 180 beats per minute and low heartbeats below 30 beats per minute. These cause sudden decrease of blood supply to the brain and lead to a dizzy feeling.

Sometimes, the heart stops beating suddenly and takes a moment before resumption of its normal rhythm. If this pause lasts for more than five seconds, dizziness or even fainting may occur.

4.    Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when you lose more fluids than you consume. This upsets mineral balance within the body and may lower blood pressure, causing fatigue, loss of strength, dizziness and nausea. Reduced blood pressure reduces the supply of oxygen to the brain, which may lead to feeling faint and shaky.

5.    Anemia

Anemia is characterized by a severe drop in red blood cell count. Red blood cells in blood are responsible for the transport of oxygen molecules from the lungs to other body parts. Therefore, anemia reduces the amount of oxygen getting to the brain, leading to lightheadedness and dizziness.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can also bring about anemia and the feeling of dizziness. This happens when the body produces abnormally large red blood cells which may function abnormally.

6.    Panic Attack

Fainting or feeling shaky can also occur due to psychiatric problems. People with anxiety syndrome can feel dizzy prior to having a panic attack.

7.    Hypoglycemia

When sugar levels in the blood drop too low, the condition is known as hypoglycemia. Low blood sugar may interfere with the functions of the muscles and brain cells. The abnormal functioning of brain cells leads to feeling of faint and shakiness.

Other signs of hypoglycemia include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling tired and weak
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Unusual sweating

Feeling Faint and Shaky: Treatments

The treatment for dizzy feeling and shakiness is dependent on the underlying cause. If it is a result of side effects of certain medications, the medication should be stopped immediately and alternatives sought. If heart problem is the cause, evaluation and careful treatment should be started soon. Following are the treatment options for the other conditions:

1.    Low Blood Pressure

The best treatment depends on the original condition; thus, doctors usually try to address the primary health problem rather than the reduced blood pressure itself.

Some of the recommended procedures to help prevent or rectify the fall in blood pressure include:

  • Increased intake of fluids
  • Healthy and balanced diet comprised of a wide variety of foods
  • Avoiding sudden changes in body position
  • Wearing compression stockings

2.    Dehydration

Dehydration is treated by increased intake of fluids. This can be done by consuming clear fluids such as water, fresh fruit juices, etc. Some dehydration patients, however, will need intravenous fluids to help rehydrate. If you are dehydrated, avoid drinks containing alcohol, coffee, tea, and sodas.

Underlying conditions causing dehydration, such as diarrhea, vomiting and fever, should also be treated.

3.     Anemia

Anemia treatment also depends on the specific cause. For example, Vitamin Deficiency Anemia is treated by dietary supplements and B12 shots.

If the anemia is caused by nutritional deficiencies, this can be remedied by switching to an iron-rich diet. Some of the iron-rich foods include:

  • Iron-fortified cereals and breads
  • Brown rice
  • White and red meat
  • Fish
  • Tofu
  • Eggs
  • Pulses
  • Meats

4.    Panic Attack

Panic attacks can be avoided once panic disorder is treated. This disorder is treated by psychotherapy, medication or a combination of both. Medications often used for its treatment include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medicines and anti-convulsant medicines.

5.    Hypoglycemia

This condition can be remedied by consuming foods or drinks rich in carbohydrates to raise the level of blood sugar whenever the patient has hypoglycemia. Carbohydrate-rich foods include rice, cereal, bread and milk.

In a situation where a patient neither can eat nor drink, glucose should be administered intravenously. Patients who continue feeling faint and shaky may also be given hormones such as glucagon to increase their blood sugar levels.