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Here’s Why You Feel Dizzy When Standing Up

Do you feel dizzy when standing up? If so, it could be due to low blood pressure. Here's when you should seek medical attention.

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Have you ever wondered why you sometimes feel dizzy when standing up? This could possibly be a condition known as orthostatic hypotension. It occurs when your blood pressure drops when you stand up.

Some people will experience this occasionally and there may not be anything to worry about. However, if it happens frequently or your symptoms become more severe, then it’s time to get checked out.

Read on to learn why you sometimes feel dizzy when standing up and how to support your health to alleviate this symptom.

Why Do I Feel Dizzy When Standing Up?

A female doctor checking a patient's blood pressure
In many cases, feeling dizzy when standing up is a sign of low blood pressure.

When you stand up from a seated or lying position suddenly, gravity causes blood to rush to your feet. Your blood pressure suddenly drops, causing temporary dizziness or lightheadedness. The situation usually resolves immediately.

You should be concerned if your symptoms are more severe and frequent. Fainting and falling from dizziness could result in concussions and even bone fractures. Fluctuations in blood pressure also increase your risk of shock or organ failure and even stroke.

The following are some underlying reasons why you could be feeling dizzy when standing up:

Dysfunction of the autonomic system

Blood pressure regulation is part of the body’s autonomic system. In a healthy body, blood pressure normalizes without us having to think about it.

Orthostatic hypotension can be a symptom of autonomic dysfunction. Diseases that cause autonomic dysfunction include type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s, and multiple system atrophy.

Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is a rarer condition related to autonomic dysfunction. It also involves dizziness when standing up, followed by a sudden increase in heartbeat rate.

Certain medications 

Medication for high blood pressure, like vasodilators and alpha-blockers, sometimes over-corrects and lowers blood pressure too much.

Diuretics can cause excessive water discharge, resulting in hypotension. Some psychiatric medications can also lower blood pressure. 

Dehydration 

Blood is mostly made of water, and when you’re dehydrated, your blood volume drops, leading to hypotension. One of the most immediate symptoms of dehydration is feeling dizzy when rising from a seated or lying position. 

Anemia 

Low levels of hemoglobin in anemia result in less oxygen reaching the brain, causing low blood pressure. Dizziness upon standing up is a common symptom of this condition. 

Underlying heart or lung problems 

Heart conditions like arrhythmias or heart valve disease impair the heart’s ability to pump blood adequately. Lungs with compromised function can affect oxygen levels in the blood. Both of these issues can cause hypotension. 

TCM’s View On Dizzy When Standing Up

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), chronic orthostatic hypotension can be traced back to two common syndromes.

“Qi (vital life force) and blood that flow smoothly to support the head and face support a change in body position, especially from a lower to a higher position. A lack of qi and blood results in dizziness and blurred vision.”

TCM physician Ho Li Ying.

“Meanwhile, Phlegm-Dampness can easily obstruct the overall flow of qi and blood. Even with sufficient qi and blood, these substances won’t be able to support all organs in the body if Phlegm-Dampness is severe. Therefore, when there is a change in body position, dizziness resembling Qi Blood Deficiency will occur,” she further elaborates.

What To Do If You Feel Dizzy When Standing Up

A young woman experiencing dizziness and embracing the wall for balance
Standing up slowly from a sit-down position can help prevent dizziness when standing up.

To prevent frequent episodes of orthostatic hypotension: 

  • Get up from sitting or lying down slowly.  
  • Instead of sleeping flat on your back, keep your head elevated.  
  • Drink some water when you get up in the morning when blood pressure is typically lowest.  
  • Wear compression garments and do isometric leg exercises that help keep blood from pooling at your feet when you stand up. 
  • Talk to your doctor about changing the medication that’s causing your dizziness. 
  • Eat smaller meals and less refined carbohydrates. Digestion of large high-carbohydrate meals diverts blood from other parts of your body. 

Herbal medicine

Fortunately, TCM remedies also target the root of what may be causing chronic low blood pressure. 

In 2016, researchers in Chongqing, China, found Ba Zhen Tang or Eight Treasures soup to be effective in enhancing the formation of cellular components of blood, replenishing qi and blood.

Other herbs that help include:  

Strengthen your Spleen and stomach to help with Qi-Blood Insufficiency

A 2020 review in Frontiers of Endocrinology confirmed that Chinese yam (huai shan) is effective in managing type 2 diabetes. This nutritious tuber helps reduce typical diabetic symptoms like dizziness.

Other herbs that may reduce dizziness include:

Relieve Phlegm-Dampness

A 2020 review in Food in Nutrition confirmed that sun-dried mandarin orange peel (chen pi) is effective in treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Improving Lung health and capacity helps prevent hypotension by ensuring sufficient oxygen levels. 

Other herbs that relieve Phlegm-Dampness are: 

  • Roasted rice tea (zhi mi cha
  • Amomum (sha ren)  
  • Dampness-removing tea (qu shi cha)  
  • Poria mushroom (fu ling
  • Atractylodes macrocephala (bai zhu
  • Ginger (sheng jiang)

Acupuncture 

A 2013 study published in the European Journal of Pacing, Arrhythmias and Cardiac Electrophysiology involving 30 participants found that electroacupuncture improved orthostatic tolerance.

Some acupoints suitable to treat and prevent this condition include: 

  • Zu san li (ST36)  
  • Feng long (ST40) 
  • Nei guan (PC6)  
  • Guan yuan (CVRN4)  

Consult A Physician About Why You Feel Dizzy When Standing Up

Monitor how often you feel dizziness when standing up. We often hear of high blood pressure being a health concern as we enter midlife, but symptomatic low blood pressure, including orthostatic hypotension, can also indicate serious problems. Remember to consult a qualified TCM practitioner before trying any of the above herbal formulations.

References

  1. Harvard Health Publishing. 2020. Dizzy spells when you stand up: When should you worry? [online] Available at: <https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/dizzy-spells-when-you-stand-up-when-should-you-worry
  2. Cleveland Clinic. 2020. Low Blood Pressure (Orthostatic Hypotension). [online] Available at: <https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9385-low-blood-pressure-orthostatic-hypotension
  3. Department of Health, State Government of Victoria, Australia. Anaemia. [online] Available at: <https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/anaemia – symptoms-of-anaemia
  4. Cleveland Clinic. 2022. Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension). [online] Available at: <https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21156-low-blood-pressure-hypotension
  5. Cleveland Clinic. 2022. Autonomic Dysfunction. [online] Available at: <https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/23555-autonomic-dysfunction
  6. Stanford Medicine. 2017. Too high: Side effects hamper many blood pressure medications. [online] Available at: <https://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2017/10/19/too-high-side-effects-hamper-many-blood-pressure-medications/
  7. China Medical University Hospital. 2022. Orthostatic Hypotension. [online] Available at: <https://www.cmuh.org.tw/HealthEdus/Detail_EN?no=5911> [Accessed 24 October 2022]
  8. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 2016. Effects and mechanisms of Bazhen decoction, Siwu decoction, and Sijunzi decoction on 5-fluorouracil-induced anemia in mice. [online] Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0254627216300668
  9. Frontiers in Endocrinology. 2020. Additional Benefit of Chinese Medicine Formulae Including Dioscoreae rhizome (Shanyao) for Diabetes Mellitus: Current State of Evidence. [online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7685178/
  10. Food and Nutrition Research. 2021. The mechanism and candidate compounds of aged citrus peel (chenpi) preventing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and its progression to lung cancer. [online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8254466/>
  11. European Journal of Pacing, Arrhythmias and Cardiac Electrophysiology. 2013. Electroacupuncture improves orthostatic tolerance in healthy individuals via improving cardiac function and activating the sympathetic system. [online] Available at: <https://academic.oup.com/europace/article/15/1/127/528771

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