Does Diabetes Cause Dizziness?

Dizziness Caused by Diabetes?

Dizzy spells can be quite frightening. You may feel like the room is spinning or that you are about to faint. You may feel dizzy if you stand up too quickly after sitting or lying down for a while. Your body is not used to the sudden change in blood flow and needs a moment to adjust. These episodes can be especially scary if they happen while you are driving or walking upstairs. If you're experiencing dizziness as a diabetic, it's important to know that there are a few different possible causes.

Low Blood Sugar can lead to Dizziness

Dizziness is a common symptom of low blood sugar levels (1). When you eat, the food is broken down into glucose. When the pancreas senses glucose in the blood, it releases a hormone called insulin. Insulin helps your body process sugar and use it for energy. If you don’t eat for a while, your blood sugar levels can drop too low, leading to dizziness. When your blood sugar levels drop, your body doesn't have enough energy to function properly. This can cause you to feel light-headed or off balance. In addition to feeling dizzy, you may also experience other symptoms like sweating, confusion, or heart palpitations. Low blood sugar can also cause you to tremble, feel anxious, and make your lips feel tingly. You may also pass out (1).

If you suspect you're experiencing low blood sugar levels, it's important to check your blood sugar levels and see a doctor if they're consistently below 70 mg/dL. Treating low blood sugar levels is important because, if left untreated, it can lead to serious complications like seizures or coma (2).

With that being said, drinking some fruit juice or having a spoonful of honey can help to raise your blood sugar levels and relieve dizziness. It is a good idea to check your blood sugar level and if it increases after eating something sweet, it is then a good idea to have a small snack. This is because the juice or honey will only raise your blood sugar temporarily. You need to maintain steady blood sugar levels to avoid your blood sugars crashing again (3). So next time you feel a little lightheaded, reach for a snack, and don’t panic!

High Blood Sugar and Hyperglycaemias

Dizziness is also a common symptom of high blood sugar levels. The medical name for this is "hyperglycemia," which occurs when there is more than 250 mg of glucose per decilitre of blood (4). Having too much sugar in your blood can be caused by a number of things, including not enough insulin being produced by the pancreas, eating too much sugar, or eating a meal with too many processed carbohydrates. It can also be caused by insulin resistance. Insulin helps the cells take in glucose, which they need for energy. However, when they are resistant to insulin, this doesn’t happen; the glucose stays in the bloodstream, and the pancreas produces even more insulin to try and correct the blood sugar levels (5).

All this sugar in your blood, along with elevated levels of insulin, can cause your blood pressure to increase, which in turn makes you feel dizzy (6). This is because the large amount of insulin that is released interferes with how nitric oxide works, and nitric oxide is an important part of keeping track of and lowering blood pressure (7).

Dehydration from High Blood Sugar

High blood sugar levels can also cause dehydration, which can also lead to dizziness. High blood sugar causes dehydration because the body is trying to get rid of the extra sugar in the blood by excreting it through urine. During this process, the body also loses water, which is what leads to dehydration.

To have adequate blood volume, the body needs plenty of water. When the body loses water, blood volume and blood pressure go down. This means that the brain struggles to get the oxygen, which is carried in the blood, that it needs. The consequence of this is dizziness, light-headedness, and weakness (8). Therefore, another thing to do if you are feeling dizzy or lightheaded is to drink plenty of fluids, preferably water.

How does diabetes affect the nervous system?: nervous-system-graphic

Vestibular dysfunction

Diabetes can cause a variety of serious health problems. However, one of the less well-known complications of diabetes is vestibular dysfunction. This can lead to feelings of dizziness and balance problems. High blood sugar levels damage the vestibular system in the inner ear, which is in charge of our sense of balance (9). This causes vestibular dysfunction (10). This can lead to a number of problems, such as feeling dizzy, having vertigo, and having trouble walking or standing up. In severe cases, vestibular dysfunction can even lead to falls and injuries. If you have diabetes and are experiencing any type of balance problem or dizziness, it's important to see your doctor so that you can be properly diagnosed and treated.

Diabetic Medication

Anyone with diabetes knows, managing the condition requires careful attention to diet, exercise, and medication. One of the most common diabetes medications is metformin, which helps regulate blood sugar levels (11). However, metformin can also cause some side effects, including dizziness (12). Metformin makes people feel dizzy, but no one knows exactly why. It may have something to do with how the drug affects blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels drop too low, it can cause light-headedness and dizziness. In some cases, these symptoms may go away after a few minutes. However, if they persist or become severe, it is important to seek medical attention. Though dizziness is a potential side effect of metformin, it is important to remember that the drug has been shown to be safe and effective for most people with diabetes.

Another diabetes medication that can cause dizziness as a side effect is sulfonylureas, which helps to lower blood sugar by stimulating the pancreas to produce more insulin. These medications can cause low blood sugar, which can lead to dizziness (13). Another type of diabetes medication is thiazolidinediones, which works by increasing the sensitivity of cells to insulin. These medications can also cause low blood sugar, which leads to dizziness (14).

Finally, another type of anti-diabetic medication called alpha-glucosidase inhibitors works by slowing the digestion of carbohydrates. On their own, they do not cause low blood sugar levels and dizziness. However, as they are often taken with sulfonylureas, this can lead to hypoglycemia and dizziness (15). If you are taking any of these medications and experience dizziness, be sure to talk to your doctor.


If you have diabetes, it’s important to monitor your blood sugar levels carefully and regularly and take steps to control your diabetes. This includes eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and taking medication as prescribed. It is also important to work with your doctor, diabetic practitioner, and optician to manage your condition effectively. Taking steps to keep yourself healthy is one of the best things you can do for your overall health, and it may help you avoid some serious complications down the road.


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