Blood pressure numbers are known to fluctuate from time to time without cause for concern.
It’s when blood pressure is consistently high or low that there may be a problem.
While most people hear about high blood pressure (hypertension) more frequently, low blood pressure (hypotension) can also be a serious condition.
If you’re experiencing hypotension that causes symptoms, it’s important to understand what the cause is.
Once you’ve consulted with a healthcare provider, there are several home remedies and lifestyle changes you can try to help bring those numbers up.
What is Low Blood Pressure?
Hypotension occurs when the blood pumped through the arteries flows at a lower than average rate—a blood pressure reading lower than 90/60 mm Hg, to be exact. (To put that into perspective, normal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60 mm Hg and 120/80 mm Hg.)
Some people have low blood pressure all the time due to genetic factors; for these individuals, it’s usually not a concern.
Other people experience a sudden drop in blood pressure or have low blood pressure that may be linked to a health problem.
Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure
Hypotension often does not cause any symptoms. If it is not causing any symptoms, it is not considered a problem, and does not need any special treatment.
When present, symptoms of low blood pressure may include:
- Blurry vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Cold, clammy, pale skin
- Rapid, shallow breathing
Home Remedies for Low Blood Pressure
If you’re experiencing consistently low blood pressure that causes symptoms, there are several home remedies your medical provider may recommend to increase your blood pressure once they have ruled out more serious medical problems.
No specific foods have been shown to increase low blood pressure, and if your lower blood pressure is not causing you any symptoms, it does not require any specific treatment.
But, eating a generally healthy diet with enough calories for your activity level, eating enough salt, and staying well-hydrated, can all help maintain a normal blood pressure if yours runs low.
In addition to what you eat, when you eat can also have an impact on your blood pressure.
When you eat a large meal, it takes your body a lot more energy to digest it, which can cause a significant drop in blood pressure.
Changing your eating habits by consuming smaller meals or snacks more frequently throughout the day can help you maintain a normal blood pressure.
While alcohol can raise blood pressure, it can also dehydrate you, which lowers your blood pressure by reducing your blood volume.
If you have low blood pressure that causes symptoms, you should avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
Drinking more water can help increase blood volume and prevent dehydration, both of which will combat hypotension.
Every person will require a different amount based on their size and activity level.
You can tell you are hydrated enough if your urine is straw colored or clear and you are able to go every 4-6 hours.
Eat more salt
We’re often told to lower our sodium intake, but increasing your sodium intake moderately can help raise blood pressure.
Good sources of salt include olives, cottage cheese, and canned soup or tuna, as well as snacks like chips or pretzels.
Another option is to add table salt or sea salt to your meals, or drink an electrolyte or sports drink in addition to plain water.
Compression stockings are elastic stockings commonly used to relieve the pain and swelling due to standing for long periods, varicose veins, pregnancy, and other conditions, but they can also help reduce the pooling of blood in your legs, forcing the blood from your extremities back up through your body.
This improved blood return from the lower extremities improves low blood pressures for some.
Depending on the cause of your hypotension, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication.
The most common medications used to treat the condition include:
- Fludrocortisone (Florinef): to increase blood volume (more volume decreases blood pressure)
- Midodrine (ProAmatine and Orvaten): to increase blood pressure
Managing Low Blood Pressure
Lower than normal blood pressure in a healthy person that does not cause any symptoms often does not require treatment. In other cases, treatment depends on the symptoms and the underlying cause of hypotension.
Causes of low blood pressure
A variety of factors, from certain medications to medical conditions, can cause short- and long-term drops in blood pressure.
Medicines and substances that can cause low blood pressure include:
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Medication for high blood pressure, such as beta blockers and alpha blockers
- Erectile dysfunction medication
Conditions that can cause low blood pressure include:
- Heart problems
- Diabetes that has caused blood vessel damage
- Peripheral vascular disease
Conditions that can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure include:
- Loss of blood from bleeding
- Septic shock (a severe blood infection)
- Severe dehydration from vomiting, diarrhea, or fever
- A reaction to medication or alcohol
- Anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction)
What to avoid with hypotension
If you are living with hypotension, actions like sitting up or standing up too quickly can cause a feeling of lightheadedness, dizziness, or potential fainting in people with low blood pressure.
You should transition slowly when changing positions to avoid fainting or falling.
In addition, you should also avoid external factors mentioned in this article including:
- Taking medications known to cause a decrease in blood pressureEating large meals
- Drinking alcohol
When to See a Medical Provider
See a healthcare provider if you experience symptoms of low blood pressure such as frequent, unexplained fainting or dizziness.
You should also contact a medical professional if you have:
- Black or maroon stools
- Chest pain
- Fever higher than 101°F (38.3°C)
- Irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
Your provider will most likely take your blood pressure reading and may perform blood, urine, or imaging tests based on your other symptoms and your exam.
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