Why Do I Get Dizzy When I Stand Up? 5 Weird Bodily Sensations, Explained
If you really think about it, all of the things your body does are kind of freaky — from pumping blood through all of your organs to keep you alive, to coordinating all of your muscles so that you can move around, to performing the functions that allow you to eat pizza, have an opinion on Lauren Conrad, or sing TLC's "Creep" super-loud in the shower. But some of the things that your body does are freakier than others — things that are less "my body is a miracle!" freaky, and more "stay up until 2 a.m. Googling my symptoms because this is definitely the END" freaky. But while sensations like getting a rush of dizziness after you stand up can be unnerving, it — or the other kinds of bodily weirdness explained below — doesn't necessarily mean that there's anything wrong with you or your body.
It's simply another one of the crazy things that our bodies do while we're busy being humans. Yeah, it's not the most pleasant stuff in the world, but isn't it interesting to know that there's a reason that you can hear your heartbeat sometimes? Or that you're not the only one who sees crazy little amoeba shapes in your eyes sometimes? Or that you are absolutely not dying just because you get a little ringing in your ears sometimes? Let your 2 a.m. Googling end here, pal. Let's pull apart the crazy crap happening inside you right now.
Dizziness When You Stand Up
What Appears To Be Happening: When you stand up, it feels like all the blood in your head whooshes out ... "whooses" is a medical term, right? Anyway, it feels like blood suddenly drained from your skull into the rest of your body, leaving you light-headed (and probably ready to give this "standing up" nonsense a rest for now).
What's Actually Happening: The technical name for this light-headed feeling after you stand up is orthostatic hypotension. Typically, it's associated with having low blood pressure, dehydration, or taking certain prescription drugs (including some anti-depressant and anti-seizure drugs). But sometimes, the standing-dizziness can be an early sign of heart problems, diabetes, or a stroke.
How Do I Stop This Crazy Crap?: Consult with your doctor to rule out any serious causes and any meds that might be making you feel woozy. If none of those factors are causing it, they should at least be able to give you some guidance on steps you can take to not feel seasick on dry land (i.e. drink more water).
Ringing In Your Ears
What's Actually Happening: Though your mom will blame the ringing in your ears on that time five years ago when you stood too close to the TV while watching Glee, a case of tinnitus (the medical name for that ringing in your ears) isn't always a sign of permanent hearing loss. While loud music can cause temporary tinnitus, so can an excess of ear wax, and some medicines like aspirin, certain antibiotics, anti-depressants, and anti-convulsants. Long-term tinnitus can be caused by age-related hearing loss, medical problems like Meniere's disease, and, yes, blasting your ear drums with Slayer.
But contrary to popular belief, the ringing sound of tinnitus is not the source of your hearing loss. Rather, when excessive noise damages the tiny hairs inside your inner ear that transmit sound, they can't function any longer; however, your brain will still try to convert their feedback into sound. This sound created from non-existent is tinnitus. Fascinating, right?
How Do I Stop This Crazy Crap?: For short-term tinnitus, you can switch medications after consulting with your doctor, or wear ear plugs at concerts (please!). For long-term tinnitus, you may have to talk to your doctor and see if there's anything that you can do, or just suck it up and realize that this is the cost of your glamorous rock 'n' roll lifestyle.
Shapes Floating In Your Vision
What Appears To Be Happening: Weird little shapes that either look kind of like bacteria under a microscope (see above) or splotchy colored dots pop into your field of vision for a second, and then pop out. These are amoebae swimming in your brain, right? Oh god, you should have never slept with your contacts in!
What's Actually Happening: Eye floaters come in two flavors (ewww, sorry): "floaters," and "phosphenes." Floaters are caused by the vitreous, a gooey substance inside your eyes that becomes more liquid as you age; this liquification causes tiny fibers within the substance to cling together, forming shadows that are cast across your retina...and voila, floaters! Phosphenes happen when your retinas accidentally misinterpret stimulus (because you rub your eyeballs, or stare at a light too long).
How Do I Stop This Crazy Crap?: Weird crud floating across your eyeball is simply part of life's rich pageant, and you must learn to deal with it ... unless it's super severe, in which case, you can have surgery on your eyeball (always a party).
Biting Your Tongue
What Appears To Be Happening: You're eating some of the aforementioned pizza, and your damn idiot mouth forgot that there was a damn tongue in there, too.
What's Actually Happening: Actually, that's pretty close to what happens when you bite your tongue. Chewing is a function that we mostly engage in consciously, but sometimes when we're eating, we go on autopilot. In those situations, a set of neurons take over the chewing for us, engaging with the 10 muscles we need for eating and drinking while we're not even paying attention (that's how a sleeve of Oreos mysteriously disappears while you were just trying to watch Parks & Recreation). And sometimes, they misjudge — and we end up with a bitten tongue.
How Do I Stop This Crazy Crap?: You could try slowing down and being less distracted while you're eating. But mostly, biting your tongue is just a part of the human condition.
Feeling Your Heartbeat In Your Ears
What Appears To Be Happening: You're in bed wearing ear plugs, or lying down in yoga class and suddenly you hear ... an incredibly loud heartbeat. Are you being haunted by the spirit of the man you murdered? I mean, if you have any better explanations, I'd like to hear them!
What's Actually Happening: When you lie down, the arteries inside your head get pushed against your skull. The bone of your skull transmits sound more easily than muscle. So, if you're lying at the exact right angle, you can hear the inside of your body as it pumps away, turning all those burritos you ate earlier today into the energy needed to achieve elevated human accomplishments.
How Do I Stop This Crazy Crap?: Folks who experience this phenomenon are simply blessed or cursed with sensitive ear drums, or arteries placed more closely on your skull than the average bear. If it's really driving you insane while you try to go to bed, skip ear plugs and try a fan or white noise machine instead. Images: Melissa O'Donoghue/ Flickr, Giphy (6)