When you stand up quickly do you occasionally feel dizzy or lightheaded? This symptom, also known as orthostatic hypotension, is more common than you might think. What causes dizziness after standing and should you be concerned?
When you bend over or squat for any period of time, blood pools in the veins of the legs causing the veins to stretch slightly due to the presence of the pooled blood. When this happens, your body senses the lower blood volume in the upper body through receptors located in the arteries and sends a message to your heart to speed up it’s pace to help circulate the blood to the upper body, particularly the brain. At the same time, the arteries constrict which helps to propel the blood back to your brain as well as the rest of your body.
When dizziness after standing or orthostatic hypotension occurs, it’s usually because this reflex mechanism isn’t working as efficiently as it should. This can occur for a variety of reasons. It more commonly occurs in warm weather when you’re more likely to be dehydrated from not drinking enough liquids. It’s also more common after taking certain drugs, particularly blood pressure medication. Inadequate nutrition, hunger, and low blood sugar can also increase the risk of experiencing dizziness after standing.
Should you be concerned if you have orthostatic hypotension or experience dizziness after standing? If this symptom occurs infrequently there’s probably no cause for concern as this is a common symptom and usually doesn’t indicate a serious medical problem. If you’re on medications, you may want to check with your doctor to see if they could be contributing to the problem. If you find that dizziness after standing is a frequent occurrence, you’ll want to check with your doctor to rule out an underlying medical condition.
When you visit your doctor, it’s likely he’ll check your blood pressure lying down and again after you stand up. If a large difference is seen between the two values, orthostatic hypotension is confirmed. Your doctor can then proceed to rule out medical reasons for this condition, starting with lab studies.
In some cases no cause for orthostatic hypotension will be found. In these situations, it’s usually recommended that precautions be taken to avoid dizziness after standing. These may include adjustment of medications, the use of salt containing beverages such as Gatorade, lower extremity support hose to promote blood return to the upper body, and getting up more slowly to avoid an extreme drop in blood pressure. In some cases, medications will be needed.
The bottom line? Dizziness after standing occurs in most people at one time or another, but if you experience this symptom frequently, it’s important to bevaluated by your doctor.