Can Probiotics Cause Dizziness? (8 reasons why)


can probiotics cause dizziness

Scientists have established the brain-gut connection, which means that anything that happens in your gut can directly link or affect your brain. In turn, this can affect your immune system and various parts of the body.

Does that mean that probiotics can also cause dizziness?

Several people have reported experiencing dizziness, headaches, and even brain fog after taking probiotics. The following are some of the reasons why you might experience dizziness with probiotic use:

  • The dose might be too high
  • Triggered by another side effect (such as diarrhea)
  • Allergic reaction
  • Herxheimer-like reaction
  • Intestinal inflammation
  • Worsened underlying condition (such as SIBO)
  • Auto-immune issues
  • Different people respond differently to probiotics (possible placebo effect?)

How can these reasons trigger dizziness, and what are the ways you can reduce or avoid their effects?

Let’s find out.

Can Probiotics Cause Dizziness?

Yes, probiotics can cause dizziness. The good news is that this rarely happens, and the causes of the dizziness aren’t usually directly due to the probiotic itself.

However, if you regularly experience dizziness with probiotic use, it’s important to stop using them and consult your doctor. You might need to adjust the dose, change your probiotic, or check for possible underlying conditions that might be triggering the side effect.

Why Do Probiotics Cause Dizziness?

Woman suffering from dizzines

There can be different reasons why probiotics can cause dizziness. It might take a differential diagnosis to determine what’s causing your dizziness and how you can avoid or reduce it in the future.

Some of the reasons I gathered from my research:

Reason #1: The Dose Might Be Too High

Just like anything else in life, taking or having too much of anything is bad, especially when it comes to your health.  Taking high doses of probiotics can increase amine levels in your system, triggering headaches and dizziness. 

It’s also possible that the higher dose creates excessive probiotic colonies that trigger your body’s protective mechanisms.

Try to cut the dose in half if you experience dizziness. If the lower dose works, then the probiotic overload might be the culprit. Continue with these doses for a few days before gradually increasing to what you were supposed to take.

It’s also a good idea to consult your doctor before you increase the dose.

Reason #2: Triggered by Another Side Effect (such as Diarrhea)

Probiotics can sometimes mess up your digestive system, leading to indigestion, diarrhea, or gas (flatulence or farting).

Watery, loose bowel movements can quickly remove precious electrolytes in your body. When that happens, you might feel dizzy and even feel weakness in your legs.

The good news is that side effects like this are often temporary and can go away after a few days of continued probiotic use.

Don’t take a break from probiotics if you experience these side effects during the first few days of intake. This might actually be a sign that your probiotic is working.

Just continue taking them, at half the dose if you want to – until your system adjusts. But make sure to stop taking it and immediately consult your doctor if you experience severe symptoms like palpitations, breathing difficulties, and high blood pressure.

Reason #3: Allergic Reaction

The actual probiotic content of your supplement rarely causes an allergic reaction, but other components might.

For example, some people are allergic to milk, but this is a common ingredient in many probiotic supplements or drinks.

If you’re allergic to milk or other components, you might experience allergy symptoms like dizziness, shortness of breath, and/or rashes and itches.

It’s best to stop using the supplement immediately and consult your doctor to find alternatives to the probiotic that triggered the allergic reaction.

You can also check the label of the probiotic supplement for possible components that can trigger these symptoms.

Reason #4: Herxheimer-like Reaction

As crazy as it sounds, it’s actually possible that the dizziness you’re experiencing is a sign that the probiotic is working. That’s due to the Herxheimer Reaction, also known as Herx Reaction or Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction.

Probiotics can work by killing bad bacteria, yeasts (cause of thrush), and even parasites (such as intestinal worms) in your body. 

When that happens, however, these dying pathogens can release toxins and other chemicals that can trigger various symptoms, including dizziness, fatigue, sweating, headache, and even chills and fever.

Note that probiotics don’t contain pathogenic bacteria unless you received a contaminated product. The good bacteria in these products don’t directly cause these symptoms. But if you’re worried, you can also consult your doctor about it.

Reason #5: Intestinal Inflammation

According to Henry Ford Health’s Dr. M. Elizabeth Swenor, probiotics can make you feel dizzy due to many different reasons.

One of the theories behind this is that probiotics might trigger intestinal inflammation, whether the dose is small or too high. The inflammation can subsequently affect your neuroendocrine system.

Remember that according to gut health statistics, as much as 70-80% of our immune system is in our guts. Plus, the mind-gut connection can lead to dizziness even if the probiotics only had a direct effect on your gut system.

Reason #6: Worsened Underlying Condition (such as SIBO)

Yes, probiotics are supposed to be good bacteria, but sometimes having too much can trigger SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). SIBO can lead to near-faint dizziness, brain fog, headaches, cold and clammy hands and feet, and transient body pain.

In a 2020 Cureus journal review, researchers discovered that stopping probiotic use, plus a course of antibiotics, helped improve the study subjects’ symptoms.

Other studies also showed similar results, leading to reduced dizziness, brain fog, and headaches.

Reason #7: Auto-Immune Issues

It’s also possible that the probiotics, particularly their components, might trigger auto-immune issues. 

This happens when the immune system mistakenly attacks your body because it wrongfully thinks these are pathogens. The auto-immune attack can affect your nerves and even your brain, leading to dizziness and other symptoms.

It’s best to immediately stop taking probiotics and rush to the ER or consult your doctor if you suspect that this might be happening to you.

Reason #8: Different People Respond Differently to Probiotics (placebo effect?)

Since people respond differently to probiotics, some might experience dizziness. The next question, however, is whether this is actually a real side effect of probiotic use.

Have you heard of the so-called ‘placebo effect’? This happens when people, particularly study subjects, are healed or experience reduced symptoms because they thought that the pill or regimen they took worked.

In reality, these study subjects only received the ‘placebo,’ a pill or regimen designed to look like the real thing but without the active ingredients.

In the same way, some people might experience symptoms such as dizziness if they think that probiotics can cause them.

That’s the power of the mind!

Can Too Much Probiotics Cause Dizziness?

Yes. When the dose is much higher than what your body actually needs, it can lead to an increase in the amine levels in your system and trigger your body’s protective mechanisms.

Consult your doctor. You might need to reduce the dose to reduce your symptoms.

How Long Does Dizziness From Probiotics Last?

The duration of dizziness can vary, depending on what actually caused it to happen. But in most cases, dizziness is likely to last for just a few days.

For most people, the benefits of probiotics far outweigh the risks, including dizziness and other symptoms. Still, it’s best to ask your doctor whether it’s best to continue taking probiotics if you experience any of these side effects.

Another option is to find ways to reduce the dizziness you feel from probiotic use to make the most of its benefits. 

What To Do To Stop or Reduce Dizziness from Probiotics? (7 ways)

You don’t have to quit probiotic use because you experience dizziness, unless your doctor tells you, of course.

These are some ways to help stop or reduce your symptoms:

1. Carefully Select Your Strain

Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strains can help reduce anxiety symptoms such as dizziness, sleep disturbances, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and lightheadedness, according to a 2009 clinical trial in the Gut Pathogens journal.

So, it’s a good idea to check for these strains in your probiotics.

Since the study used Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota, a strain found in Yakult, then it might also mean that this probiotic drink can help reduce dizziness.

2. Try a Variety of Probiotics

Sometimes, all you need to do is to find the right probiotic that will work for you.

The good news is that there are so many out there. Finding the right one that best suits you can take some trial and error, but you might get lucky with the next one you try.

I recommend YourBiology Gut+ and Bauer Nutrition Biotics 8 (for men) because they are high-quality probiotic supplements with Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strains.

3. Reduce the Dose

Since taking too many probiotics can cause dizziness, you can try to reduce the dose and observe if it alleviates your symptoms.

4. Slowly Increase Your Intake

Continue taking the reduced dose for a few days before gradually increasing it to the recommended dose.

5. Drink Lots of Water

Let water work its magic by helping you flush out the toxins produced by the “dying out” reaction (Herxheimer Reaction) of the pathogens in your body.

6. Get Plenty of Fresh Air

If you feel dizzy, get some fresh air to help you feel better.

7. Take Anti-Nausea Medication

If the symptoms persist, you can take anti-nausea medication such as over-the-counter anti-emetics like metoclopramide or domperidone.

Conclusion

Probiotics have plenty of positive benefits in our bodies, but they can sometimes cause dizziness. It’s a good idea to try determining what’s causing your symptoms to help you deal with them as quickly as possible. 

You can also follow my recommendations above on how to reduce your symptoms, especially by choosing the right probiotics so you can avoid experiencing dizziness.

Brenda L. Mosley

Hi, Brenda here, I have been a health advocate and writer with 10 years of experience in health and nutrition. I also hold a BS in Nutrition Science and am based in Massachusetts with my family. My mission is to impact the world using my health and nutrition experience by sharing, writing, and educating on the internet - and offline too when possible. When I'm not busy writing or engaging in health forums and groups - you'll find me spending time with my 3 kids, eating, or reading literary fiction books.

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