Is dizziness keeping you off your feet?

This condition is postural or orthostatic hypotension and it is caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure when you stand up.  After sitting or lying down for a period of time, gravity causes blood to pool in your legs, creating a sudden drop in blood pressure when you go from lying or sitting position to standing.

“Sometimes, your heart isn’t able to jump into gear and pump blood back through your system quickly enough and this causes your blood pressure to drop,” says Dr. Katie Thompson, internal medicine physician at Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center in Sheboygan WI.  “That means less blood for your organs, including your brain, and your muscles, which can cause dizziness or that feeling of lightheadedness upon standing.”

Did you ever suddenly stand up only to find yourself feeling like you need to sit right back down? If you’ve experienced that dizzy or lightheaded feeling upon standing, you may want to pay attention.

The condition is usually mild and only lasts for a few minutes. While dizziness is the common symptom, more severe incidents can include in:

  • Blurry vision
  • Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Nausea

More serious causes of orthostatic hypotension can include cardiac issues, nervous system disorders and endocrine system issues. Orthostatic hypotension is more likely to occur in those who are 65 which can increase risk of falling.

“Usually, cases are mild and can be triggered by dehydration, low blood sugar or sitting for a long time,” says Dr. Thompson. Simple steps like getting up slowly, ensuring you are well-hydrated, and moving your body to increase circulation before standing can help, says Dr. Thompson.

“Most people need not worry if they experience occasional symptoms, however, if something feels wrong or off, talking to your health care provider could help to uncover and address a more serious underlying issue,” says Dr. Thompson.

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