PLEASE NOTE: The medical opinions in USTA.com's Ask the High Performance Lab are responses intended for the average player. Please consult with your primary physician before beginning any new exercise program. The health and fitness advice for this week's column come from Dr. Carol Otis, a sports medicine physician with special expertise in women’s issues and tennis medicine. She is a member of the USTA Sport Science Committee and is the former Medical Advisor for the WTA Tour as well as the chairperson of the WTA Age Eligibility Commission.
Dr. Otis is the lead author of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Position Stand on the Female Athlete Triad (1997) and has published numerous articles. Dr. Otis is also a former collegiate tennis player (Scripps College, Claremont, Ca).
Visit her web site www.sportsdoctor.com to find sports medicine information relevant for amateur and professional athletes.
Question: I play tennis 3 to 5 times a week and I drink 1-2 quarts of smart water while I play. From time to time, I experience dizziness which goes away in about 30 seconds. But it worries me and I don't like the feeling. I never play on an empty stomach, I consume 64 ounces of water a day plus the smart water. I stay away from sports drinks because of the sugar content. What can I do?
-- Karyn Stokes, Farmington Hills, Michigan
Dr. Otis: Karyn, dizziness can have many causes and may be a symptom of an underlying condition. Seeing a physician can help to determine the underlying causes, some of which could be serious. You can then get treatment so that you can get back to feeling well and playing your best tennis.
Some of the possible causes of dizziness include blood pressure irregularities and/or heart problems, inner ear problems or dehydration. Sometimes the way you feel dizzy can help determine the type of dizziness and the possible cause.
Let’s look at several possible symptoms and underlying causes.
1. If the dizziness is accompanied by a lightheaded feeling, especially when you stand up quickly, or if the dizziness occurs for a brief time, and occurs when you go from lying to standing or from squatting to standing up quickly, it can be due to dehydration or lack of fluids. If your dizziness occurs right at the beginning of your exercise, it is unlikely to be to be due to dehydration or lack of water intake.
2. Some people have a delay in adjusting their blood pressure when they stand up quickly and may feel dizzy for a few seconds right after changing position. This can be a symptom of high blood pressure (hypertension) or low blood pressure and is something that should be checked by a doctor.
3. Dizziness can also be a sign of iron-poor blood or anemia, which is more common in menstruating women.
4. Another type of dizziness accompanies a feeling of spinning or moving quickly. This sensation may be made worse by tilting your head back for a serve or overhead. This type of dizziness can be due to a problem in the inner ear, where the body’s balance organs are located.
5. Yet another type of dizziness can be associated with heart problems. If you have other symptoms that accompany the dizziness, such as feeling short of breath, palpitations or a fast or irregular heart beat, the dizziness could be due to a heart problem such as an irregular heart beat or arrhythmia. Dizziness can also be a symptom of an enlarged heart or a blocked artery.
The only sure way of knowing what is happening is to get a complete check up by your physician and she/he can get you on the road back to feeling better.
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