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7th December, 20202 min read

Orthostatic hypotension

Medical reviewer: Dr Ann Nainan
Author: Dr Lauretta Ihonor
Last reviewed: 01/12/2020
Medically reviewed

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Postural hypotension, also known as orthostatic hypotension, is a fall in blood pressure after changing positions, often from lying or sitting down to standing up.

If you have postural hypotension, you may notice symptoms, such as:

  • feeling lightheaded, dizzy or weak
  • changes in your vision
  • difficulty concentrating
  • fainting

Dehydration can cause postural hypotension, and this dehydration can happen in many ways. For example, you can become dehydrated if you don’t drink enough fluids, you’ve been sweating a lot or you’ve had really bad diarrhea or vomiting.

Other things can also cause postural hypotension, including certain medications and conditions, like diabetes.

How is postural hypotension treated?

It’s important to see a doctor if you think you have postural hypotension. They may do some tests to find out what’s causing it, if that isn’t clear.

If a medicine you’re taking is causing your symptoms, the doctor will usually review any medication you’re taking and suggest changes. But don’t stop taking any medications you’re on without speaking to a doctor first.

You can manage your symptoms by making simple lifestyle changes, including:

  • standing up slowly from sitting to standing
  • raising the head of your bed by about 15cm (6 inches) with bricks or heavy books
  • limiting your alcohol intake
  • wearing support stockings to improve circulation
  • drinking enough fluids, so you stay well hydrated

In some cases, a doctor may recommend medication to help manage postural hypotension.

References

  1. Orthostatic hypotension - Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment | BMJ Best Practice [Internet]. Bestpractice.bmj.com. 2020 [cited 3 December 2020]. Available here.
  2. [Internet]. Uptodate.com. 2020 [cited 3 December 2020]. Available here.
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