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Dr. Hive, Athletic Teen Complaining of Dizziness While Lifting Weights


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Help me figure out what might be happening here.

 

DS18 is an athletic guy, with an Ectomorphic body type (very lean, with high muscular definition, but not bulk). He always wants to be bulkier and more muscular (though honestly, I don’t think he will ever be the way he’s envisioning, because he does not have that body type). He has played several sports since he was a preschooler.

 

He has tried to get on a weight-lifting program a couple of times -once last year and another time or two this year. We have weight equipment at our house in a “gym†in the basement. I have never monitored his lifting, but DH has sometimes. DS told me last night he thinks something is wrong, though, because as he tries to lift, he starts to feel dizzy and sick. He has been (unbeknowst to me) “trying to just power throughâ€, thinking he has to endure that to get to his goal. But now he is starting to worry he has a legitimate health problem.

 

This could be just his method/routine is faulty or inappropriate and/or he does not breathe properly throughout. DH thinks he tries to “hit it too hard†and is not resting and breathing properly throughout. This theory would match DS’ personality because he is very all-or-nothing in general. DS has never a single issue while running his butt of in soccer or lacrosse, so it does not seem to be heart-related to me. But I also want to make sure I am not missing something. It could definitely be his form and method needs advising, but I wanted to see if this rings any alarm bells for people with better medical knowledge.

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Is he well hydrated? Does he eat before lifting, after lifting? How is his diet?

He has tried different variations on eating before, after, or both. He said this does not alter the outcome. I can’t swear he drinks enough; during the day at school, he most often has only a full waterbottle and a drink with lunch, usually Gatorade. During sports seasons, he has more water and sports drinks with practice. His diet is generally good, though I think he undereats. (And that assessment is coming from someone who also tends to undereat.) i actually just realized it would be a good idea if he would use something like My Fitness Pal, so he could see more clearly the calories and macros he consumes.

 

He used a weight-gain powder supplement thing this past summer while he was trying to work out. I think he tried both before and after lifting to see if it was better one way or the other. He often ate breaded chicken strips before/after for a protein boost.

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Pay to have him go to a gym and have a trainer observe his usual routine with the weights there. Trainer will spot if he is moving too fast, or not allowing enough time between reps, etc. But he has to do the weights exactly as he does them at home.

I’ve been leaning towards doing this. Thanks.

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Do you know what kind of supplement it was? Creatine maybe?

 

I’m not sure it would cause dizziness but some people think it may cause liver or kidney damage. It can also cause dehydration. A lot of weight lifting supplements contain ingredients that speed up heart rates too. Again, I’m not sure if it would cause dizziness but that would be where I start.

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Do you know what kind of supplement it was? Creatine maybe?

 

I’m not sure it would cause dizziness but some people think it may cause liver or kidney damage. It can also cause dehydration. A lot of weight lifting supplements contain ingredients that speed up heart rates too. Again, I’m not sure if it would cause dizziness but that would be where I start.

It is Whey protein powder. I do not see Creatine on the ingredients list.

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Weight lifting and dizziness would make me want to check out heart health, for sure.

 

The only other possibility I can't remember what it's called, unfortunately... something postural about the angle of the neck.

 

:iagree:   There could be multiple issues effecting him.  Primarily, I'd be concerned about him lifting heavy weights with no supervision, spotting or training of proper technique and posture. I'd definitely take him to a GP or sports physician. Then, once he's received the go-ahead from the dr I'd get him a series of meetings with a personal trainer to set up a progressive training program.  After that, he shouldn't lift heavy weights without a spotter. He should be at a gym with others there to support and spot him when he lifts.  An alternative is to use the special lifting equipment at the gym with built-in safety mechanisms so that a spotter isn't needed. 

 

In the meantime, no weight lifting on his own. 

Edited by wintermom
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Is he taking any supplements to bulk up? I don’t want to worry you, but our community has lost 2-3 young men this way. They were great, athletic kids from wonderful families. Two collapsed while weightlifting and another passed away at a sports practice. All three were taking dietary supplements. I’m not saying the supplements caused their deaths, but there may be some correlation.

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It sounds to me like it might be orthostatic hypotension (a drop in blood pressure). Has he ever mentioned feeling dizzy or lightheaded when he stands up quickly? Orthostatic hypotension is not uncommon when lifting weights, so it could be the cause of his dizziness even if he's never experienced it otherwise. I have it on a daily basis, but it's particularly bad during certain types of exercise. 

 

I would definitely have him seen by a doctor to rule out anything more serious, and to get a full physical before starting to lift weights again. A personal trainer can help him choose exercises, plan a workout routine, and use appropriate breathing techniques to minimize dizziness. 

 

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It sounds to me like it might be orthostatic hypotension (a drop in blood pressure). Has he ever mentioned feeling dizzy or lightheaded when he stands up quickly? Orthostatic hypotension is not uncommon when lifting weights, so it could be the cause of his dizziness even if he's never experienced it otherwise. I have it on a daily basis, but it's particularly bad during certain types of exercise.

 

I would definitely have him seen by a doctor to rule out anything more serious, and to get a full physical before starting to lift weights again. A personal trainer can help him choose exercises, plan a workout routine, and use appropriate breathing techniques to minimize dizziness.

I have orthostatic hypotension and so does my daughter. It is possible he has it, too. He does sometimes get dizzy from standing too quickly.

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Dehydration or holding his breath during the lifts are the most likely culprits imo. It is really, really common to hold the breath and it can be really damaging and cause a sharp blood pressure spike. 

 

He should breathe in during the easier phase of the lift and exhale during the exertion phase. (If you are in a gym, you will often hear others exhale rather loudly, with or without some voice to it.) 

 

Here's a good article on it. I have found Livestrong to be a very reliable source: 

 

https://www.livestrong.com/article/391937-why-do-i-feel-lightheaded-when-bodybuilding/

 

I agree with a pp's: No more weight lifting without 1) being well hydrated. He needs to be intentionally hydrated before lifting 2) someone trained with him (ie someone trained to watch for the breathing switch and to observe exact body position)  until this is sorted out and 3) a doctor's appointment.  I think it would be okay to try one more time well hydrated with a trainer but if it happens then, too, definitely the doctor. 

 

"Pushing through" dizziness is dangerous. 

Edited by Laurie4b
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