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Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension) - Topic Overview

What are the symptoms?

Many people with low blood pressure don't have any symptoms.

Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or faint.
  • Feeling sick to your stomach or vomiting.
  • Feeling more thirsty than usual.
  • Having blurry vision.
  • Feeling weak.
  • Being confused.
  • Being tired.
  • Having cold, clammy skin.
  • Breathing very fast.

If you have symptoms of low blood pressure, especially dizziness or fainting, call your doctor.

Watch for symptoms of low blood pressure. Tell your doctor when the symptoms happen so he or she can treat them.

How is low blood pressure diagnosed?

Often people learn that they have low blood pressure when their doctor checks it. Or you may find that you have low blood pressure when you check it at home.

To check for the causes of your low blood pressure, your doctor will ask about your past health, your symptoms, and the medicines you take. He or she will do a physical exam and may do other tests. Your doctor may check for another health problem that could be causing your low blood pressure.

Will your doctor treat low blood pressure?

You will likely get treated for low blood pressure only if it is causing symptoms or if your blood pressure drops suddenly. Treatment depends on your symptoms, how severe they are, and the reasons for the low blood pressure.

Your doctor may have you:

  • Add more salt to your diet.
  • Get fluid through an intravenous (IV) line if you are very dehydrated.
  • Change or stop medicines that lower your blood pressure.
  • Take medicine to treat the problem that is causing low blood pressure. For example, you may need antibiotics to treat infection or medicines to stop vomiting or diarrhea.

Be sure to talk with your doctor before you add more salt to your diet or make any changes in your medicines.

How can you prevent low blood pressure symptoms?

If you have orthostatic hypotension, your doctor may suggest that you try some simple ways to prevent symptoms like dizziness. For example, you can:

  • Stand up slowly.
  • Drink more water.
  • Drink little or no alcohol.
  • Limit or avoid caffeine.
  • Wear compression stockings.

If you feel dizzy or lightheaded, sit down or lie down for a few minutes. Or you can sit down and put your head between your knees. This will help your blood pressure go back to normal and help your symptoms go away.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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