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Dizziness When Standing: Why It Happens and What to Do About Feeling Dizzy When Standing

If you’ve ever stood up after a long period of sitting on the couch, you’re probably familiar with the sensation of being light-headed when standing up. As uncomfortable as it can be, it usually passes before you have the chance to give it a second thought. If it happens more often, though, it can be concerning and frustrating. Feeling dizzy when standing is often related to blood flow and blood pressure.

People who get dizzy when standing may feel light-headed, faint, or like the room is spinning. These symptoms occur after sitting or lying down for a period of time and can last for a few moments or a couple of minutes. Other symptoms that come along with dizziness when standing often include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Nausea

Some of the reasons you may feel light-headed when standing up are orthostatic hypotension, menopause, dehydration, heart problems, endocrine issues, and nervous system disorders.

Orthostatic hypotension, also known as postural hypotension, is when your blood pressure drops when you stand up, resulting in feeling dizzy when standing. Your body releases epinephrine when you stand up, causing your blood vessels to constrict and preventing your blood pressure from falling too drastically. People with orthostatic hypotension don’t release enough epinephrine, so their blood vessels don’t contract enough to properly regulate blood flow.

The condition is typically mild, and episodes usually last for only a few minutes. Orthostatic hypotension can sometimes be acute and caused by a particular circumstance, such as extended bed rest. Or, it may be a chronic condition that indicates another health problem. Your heart and blood vessels can usually recognize changes in blood pressure and stabilize themselves through cells called baroreceptors. In people with orthostatic hypotension, this process is somehow interrupted.

Some women feel faint or light-headed when standing up because of hormone fluctuations. Hormonal changes during early pregnancy can make some women feel dizzy or light-headed when standing up.

Dehydration causes numerous problems, including electrolyte and fluid imbalances. It also makes it harder for your body to regulate blood flow. Lower blood volume also causes hypotension. If you haven’t been drinking enough fluids, have vomited recently, have exercised strenuously, or are running a fever, you might notice dizziness when standing up too fast.

If your heart struggles to regulate blood flow and pump blood quickly enough through your veins, this can make you feel light-headed when standing up. Heart failure, a slow heartbeat, and problems in your heart valves are some of the reasons your heart may struggle to regulate blood flow.

Endocrine problems can sometimes result in dizziness when standing. Hypothyroidism (when your thyroid doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone) can lead to orthostatic hypotension. Low blood sugar and complications from untreated diabetes, which affects how blood pressure and sugar are regulated, can also make you dizzy when standing up too fast. 

Other endocrine diseases like adrenal insufficiency can impair the production of hormones like aldosterone and cortisol. Low amounts of both of these hormones can cause dizziness when standing up too fast. Low iron levels and anemia can also cause headaches and/or light-headedness.

Disorders that affect the nervous system often make it hard for blood to get to the brain and lead to light-headedness. Diseases like Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s disease can interfere with blood pressure, also leading to dizziness when standing up too fast.

Sometimes, dizziness when standing up can signify an underlying condition such as heart failure. Dehydration can also be serious if ignored. If you’re experiencing other neurological symptoms along with being light-headed when standing up, you could be developing a nervous system disorder. 

Even when feeling dizzy when standing up isn’t related to a serious condition, it can still lead to serious issues. For example, feeling light-headed or dizzy can lead to a fall. If you faint during one of these dizzy spells, the danger is even more serious. When your blood pressure falls and rises dramatically, this can impact blood flow to your brain and increase the risk of stroke.

If you get dizzy when you stand up and are wondering how to fix it, the answer lies in how you manage the underlying problem. You might be able to find a quick fix by sitting back down after standing, but long-term solutions are more productive and rewarding. Orthostatic hypotension is often the result of another underlying issue, and fixing it can give you better health. 

If you’ve been dehydrated, work on rehydrating your body slowly with water and electrolytes. Avoid strenuous exercise when your fluid levels are low, and try to keep your body at a comfortable temperature.

Symptoms related to menopause will ease with time, but you can make yourself more comfortable with some simple steps. Avoid changing positions too quickly, maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, and eat regular, balanced meals. After menopause, feelings of dizziness when standing often fade away.

Heart problems, endocrine issues, and disorders of the nervous system all require the help of a medical professional. The practical steps mentioned above can improve your overall health and help lessen your dizziness, but addressing the cause will improve your quality of life and hopefully resolve any serious problems.

Sometimes medications can cause low blood pressure, so switching medications or changing the dosage can alleviate the dizziness. Beneficial lifestyle changes could include elevating the head of your bed and wearing compression stockings to keep blood from pooling in your legs when you stand up.

If your dizziness when standing up only happens occasionally, there likely isn’t any reason to worry. The normal pull of blood away from your head and heart and subsequent dizziness when standing can be a part of your body’s natural response to gravity. As epinephrine is released and your blood vessels are regulated, the symptoms will go away. 

If your symptoms are recurrent, come with other concerning symptoms, or you have been losing consciousness, seek medical advice. If you suspect that an underlying condition is causing your dizziness when standing up, keep track of your symptoms and consult your health care provider.

Getting dizzy when standing up too fast usually isn’t a serious issue. By identifying the cause of your symptoms and practicing general wellness, you may be able to resolve the issue on your own. However, if you’re regularly getting dizzy when standing up and it’s causing problems that interfere with your life, it could be a sign of a more serious condition. No matter what the cause is, staying healthy and keeping in contact with your health care provider can prevent many problems. 

https://www.cdc.gov/steadi/pdf/STEADI-Brochure-Postural-Hypotension-508.pdf
https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/orthostatic-hypotension
https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01285908
https://www.nursingtimes.net/clinical-archive/vital-signs/orthostatic-hypotension-2-the-physiology-of-blood-pressure-regulation-07-11-2016/
https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/004000.htm
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3984489/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21888303
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26880254
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/orthostatic-hypotension/symptoms-causes/syc-20352548
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/orthostatic-hypotension/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352553
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9385-orthostatic-hypotension

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