Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why do I get lightheaded and dizzy when I stand up?"
I'm a 20 year old 5'5 female 113 pounds. For about the past year, maybe a little less, every time I stand up, even from sitting in a chair, I get briefly lightheaded. The lightheadedness only lasts a few seconds but is accompanied by loss of vision, but only for a few seconds. The thing I usually do too stop this the quickest is bend over and put my head by my knees. This always works and I feel better immediately. Because this works I assume it has to do with blood flow/pressure; that when I stand up, because of gravity my blood takes a bit to get all the way back to my head. What I'm not sure of is how normal it is for this sensation to happen so often. Is it diet, or blood pressure/sugar? Thanks!
What you are describing sounds like orthostatic hypotension. This condition happens when your body position changes rapidly from lying or sitting to standing and your cardiovascular system has not responded quickly enough resulting in temporarily low blood pressure to your brain leading to a presyncopal episode. It can quickly get better after you sit back down, allowing the blood pressure to re-establish. Most often this is due to dehydration leading to low blood volume (i.e. after a long work out without adequate hydration). But it can also occurs in patients with heart abnormalities like arrhythmia (atrial fibrillation, heart blocks), valvular diseases (aortic stenosis), or carotid stenoses. In rarer occasions, adrenal insufficiency or steroid withdrawals can lead to this very presentation. However, these conditions are less common. It is important to get a work up to figure which condition you may have. I would recommend you to follow up with a primary care physician, letting them know your symptoms. Based on your age, risk factors and a physical exam, they will order specific laboratory tests or imaging. Many of the above conditions are treatable once diagnosed. For example, an arrthymic heart can be controlled by medication or by a pace maker. A stenotic carotid artery can be stented open or undergo surgery to remove the plagues. Please visit a PCP soon.