Dizziness and vertigo can cause burns. In this blog, I will describe to you two stories that illustrate the importance of clearing up symptoms of dizziness and vertigo as quickly as possible to avoid serious injury.

One of the phrases I repeat often to many of my patients during our final visit is, “At least you got through this episode of vertigo with no serious injuries. That is something to be thankful for and now that your vertigo is cured, you can get back to life as usual.”

Most people don’t think about the life-threatening consequences of ignoring symptoms of dizziness or vertigo. If people are aware of the possible severe consequences of chronic dizziness or vertigo, they think of the risk of falling and fracturing a bone.

The risk of falling and fracturing is a very real possibility for people with dizziness and should be avoided.

Unfortunately, I have observed another serious side effect of loss of balance or falls from dizziness – and that is burns.

dizziness can cause burnsI had an elderly patient about five years ago who had chronic dizziness from medication side effects mixed with alcohol use, and he fell backwards in his bedroom at night while walking to the toilet. It was cold outside so he had his radiator heater turned on to keep his bedroom warm and cozy.

Sadly, he had to be rushed to the hospital by paramedics with a severe burn that covered most of the skin on his back from falling backwards onto the radiator. I distinctly remember thinking at the time that I had never connected the risk of severe burn injuries with unresolved symptoms of dizziness, vertigo and imbalance.

I was recently reminded of that horrific incident when I suffered a first degree burn on my hand from imbalance and migraine-associated dizziness.

To reduce the throbbing migraine pain, I was pouring boiling water into a hot water bottle to use on my head. I was swaying around because my balance was “off” from the migraine and the migraine-associated dizziness, plus my vision was a little blurry.

So I accidentally missed the hot water bottle and poured the boiling water directly on the back of my left hand. I was too sick at the time to get upset about it, but I ran my left hand under cold water to soothe the pain and then rubbed some fresh aloe on it.

A couple of days later, I noticed a red brown scab had formed on the back of my hand and it began peeling. My hand was tingling and painful for awhile, but eventually the skin healed on its own.

I realized that I suffered a first degree burn on my hand from dizziness, blurry vision and imbalance during a migraine episode.

I thought, “Wow! Dizziness and vertigo can cause burns.”

Luckily my burn injury healed on its own within two weeks and did not leave a scar. My former patient who burned his back on a heater was in the hospital for months with second and third degree burns, and had to undergo many painful skin grafts.

My wish for everyone who suffers with dizziness and vertigo is that they would find a provider who can perform a Root Cause Evaluation to reduce if not completely eliminate the symptoms of dizziness and vertigo. A major goal of proper care is to reduce the risk of serious injuries, such as burns or fall-related fractures, that can occur from dizziness, vertigo and imbalance.


This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content and any comments by Dr. Kim Bell, DPT are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The details of any case mentioned in this post represent a typical patient that Dr. Bell might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.

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