Orthostatic Hypotension

What is Orthostatic Hypotension?

Orthostatic Hypotension is a kind of low blood pressure that occurs when standing up after lying down or sitting for a period of time. Many people simply call it a head rush. When it hits, it is usually mild and lasts for only a few seconds. Rarely does it last any longer than a couple of minutes. Orthostatic hypotension that continues for any significant period of time could be an indication of a more serious underlying condition and should be evaluated by a medical professional.

The condition often becomes more frequent as a person ages. It is also known to occur in cases of mild dehydration, pregnancy, anemia, various heart conditions, low blood sugar, and thyroid issues. Some medications could cause episodes of orthostatic hypotension, as can exposure to hot environments, lengthy periods of bed rest, and alcohol consumption.

What are the Symptoms of Orthostatic Hypotension?

The symptoms of orthostatic hypotension set in within seconds of standing up and frequently include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Disorientation
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling weak
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Falling
  • Lightheadedness

In some cases, orthostatic hypotension may cause a person to faint or pass out.

How is Orthostatic Hypotension Treated?

Patients who experience occasional mild orthostatic hypotension generally do not require treatment. It is a very common occurrence that almost everyone experiences at one point or another, and there is rarely cause for concern. Most of the time, the condition will clear up quickly or can be helped along by sitting or lying down for a couple of minutes.

More severe cases are treated based on the cause. Orthostatic hypotension that is the result of another medical condition will often improve once that condition is brought under control. If medications are causing frequent head rushes, the dosage can be changed. Staying hydrated, avoiding alcohol, limiting sodium intake, wearing compression stockings, and standing up slowly are a few lifestyle changes that may also help.

Last Reviewed:
October 07, 2016
Last Updated:
August 15, 2017