If a few laps in the pool make your head swim, you could be experiencing vertigo. Vertigo is a kind of dizziness, according to MayoClinic.com. It usually results from a sudden or temporary change in the activity of the balance structures in your inner ear, which sense movement and changes in your head position. Sitting up or moving around might make you more dizzy, cause you to lose your balance or bring on dreaded nausea. If you get dizzy when you swim, do a bit of detective work to identify potential vertigo triggers.
Vertigo Triggers in Swimming
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Sudden movement of your head by turning or sitting up quickly can trigger vertigo and cause dizziness. When swimming, the side to side movement and turning your head to breathe can trigger vertigo, as can the tuck and roll from a flip turn or a quick change of direction when swimming underwater. If you are prone to episodes of vertigo, try swimming a stroke that has minimal head movement, such as side stroke or a head up breast stroke or freestyle. Using a kick board rather than swimming the whole stroke can also help minimize head movement and provide support should dizziness occur while swimming.
Reduce Dizziness Duration and Frequency
If it makes your head spin, don't do it -- adopt this as your new motto. Central California Ear Nose and Throat Medical Group recommends avoiding rapid changes in body position and extreme head motion, such as turning or twisting. Minimize your exposure to circumstances and things that make you dizzy, such as long lines at the market or roses that trigger sneezing fits.
Driving, climbing ladders, operating electric hedge clippers -- forget about it. If you are prone to dizziness, it's best to take a hiatus from your regular activities until you have it under control. And because of the inherent dangers of water, never, ever swim where there is no lifeguard or at least someone you trust watching over you. Avoid nicotine, caffeine and salt as these impair circulation.
Move so that your eyes will see the same motion that your body and inner ear feel, suggests Central California Ear Nose and Throat Medical Group. Along that line, swimming backstroke or floating on your back may cause nausea and should be avoided. If that doesn't do the trick, ask your doctor about taking a motion sickness medicine before swimming; you can buy some varieties over the counter.
Dizziness When Swimming
If you do get dizzy while swimming, slow down and focus on a point straight in front of you, such as the side of the pool or the shore. Slowly and facing forward, head out of water with as little head movement as possible. Swim toward your target. If you feel too disoriented to swim, signal for assistance from a lifeguard or another person. If in a pool, hang onto the nearest lane line or rope while waiting for help. Tread rather than float to avoid further head movement, and choose a non-moving target such as a wall or a sign to focus on. Avoid moving your head while calling for help. Most important of all: Stay calm and do not panic.
Christy Ayala writes about recreation, sports, aquatics, healthy living, family and parenting, language development, organizational change, pets and animals. Ayala holds a master's degree in recreation administration from Aurora University’s George Williams College, a graduate certificate in organizational change from Hawaii Pacific University and a bachelor's degree in Spanish from the University of Missouri, St. Louis.