May also be called: Postural Hypotension
Orthostatic hypotension is an abnormal drop in blood pressure that occurs when someone goes from sitting or lying down to standing up. This reduction in blood flow causes an oxygen shortage in the brain, leading to lightheadedness, dizziness, and sometimes fainting.
The body has natural systems in place to quickly regulate blood pressure when changes in blood flow occur. With orthostatic hypotension, however, these natural systems are interrupted.
Certain medications can cause orthostatic hypotension, as can dehydration due to vomiting, diarrhea, untreated diabetes, or excessive sweating. Severe bleeding, heart problems, nervous system disorders, and other factors can also trigger the condition.
Besides feeling faint, someone experiencing orthostatic hypotension might have blurry vision or feel nauseated, weak, and confused. After standing, symptoms usually last for only a few seconds to a few minutes. If they continue longer or there is loss of consciousness, an underlying condition might be involved that requires treatment.
Treatment for orthostatic hypotension may include medications or increasing fluids and salt in the diet. Standing up slowly, wearing elastic stockings, and sleeping with the head slightly elevated also can help ease the effects of orthostatic hypotension.
While orthostatic hypotension can sometimes indicate a more serious problem, most cases can be successfully treated.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
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