HEART CARE

What You Should Know About Low Blood Pressure Symptoms

By Michele C. Hollow  @michelechollow
 | 
April 18, 2017

Feeling tired, dizzy, nauseous, sweaty, unusually thirsty, dehydrated, or have rapid, shallow breathing? Here’s what to do for low blood pressure symptoms.

 If you’ve been to the doctor for a checkup, it’s likely that you’ve had your blood pressure taken. The monitor gives us a reading of two numbers. Most of us have no idea what those numbers mean.

The top one, which is higher than the second, is called systolic pressure. It refers to the amount of pressure in your arteries when your heart contracts. The bottom number, called diastolic pressure, is the measurement between your heartbeats.

 

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What is low blood pressure?

Normal readings have a top number between 90 and 120 and a bottom number between 60 and 80. If you have a reading of 90/60 (that’s 90 over 60) or lower, you may have low blood pressure.

Having low numbers isn’t cause for alarm. It’s quite normal for one’s blood pressure to drop every once in a while. Symptoms of low blood pressure include feeling tired, dizzy, nauseous, sweaty, depressed, unusually thirsty, dehydrated, unfocused, or having rapid, shallow breathing, and blurry vision. If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor.

What causes low blood pressure?

  • Pregnancy due to an increase in blood flow from mother to baby
  • Loss of blood from an injury
  • Impaired circulation caused by faulty heart valves or a heart attack
  • Being dehydrated
  • Having a negative reaction to certain medications
  • Anaphylactic shock or severe allergies
  • Having bloodstream infections
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid disease

You can still have low blood pressure and not have any of the above causes. This form of low blood pressure is called chronic asymptomatic hypotension. The good news is that it’s not usually harmful.

Low blood pressure symptoms

Other types of low blood pressure include orthostatic, postprandial, neurally mediated, and severe. Orthostatic is common. You might be lying down or sitting; you get up and feel dizzy.

Postprandial low blood pressure symptoms happen right after eating a meal. Your blood pressure drops on a full stomach. Neurally mediated occurs in children more often than in adults. It’s when you’re standing for long periods of time that your blood pressure drops. It can also happen during an emotionally upsetting time.

Severe, just like its name, can be fatal if not treated right away. It’s when you experience shock, which occurs when your organs don’t get the blood and oxygen they need to function.

Low blood pressure treatment

The type of treatment your doctor recommends depends on the cause. If you are dehydrated, for example, you should drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated prevents symptoms and can reverse low blood pressure. You will want to increase the amount of liquids you drink when it’s hot outside.

Non-caffeinated beverages are preferred. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. They can dehydrate your system. One alcoholic beverage or a cup of coffee or black tea is okay; just don’t overdo it.

It’s also a good idea to make sure you have enough salt in your diet because salt helps you stay hydrated.

Exercise daily to get your blood flowing. It really does make a difference and can normalize your symptoms of blood pressure.

Your doctor may prescribe medication for hypotension if the cause includes heart disease, diabetes, or infection.

If you have orthostatic hypotension, that’s when you feel dizzy when moving from a lying down or sitting position to a standing one, treatment can be as simple as getting up slowly and by not crossing your legs.

If you experience shock from an accident, emergency medical personnel will give you fluids and medication to raise your blood pressure.

Low blood pressure is treatable. If you think you have any symptoms, make an appointment to speak with your doctor.

 

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Updated:

April 18, 2017

Reviewed By:

Janet O’Dell, RN