Standing up too quickly and feeling like you’re spinning is always unsettling. Although the initial dizziness could be a little scary, Nadia Sutton, MD, an interventional cardiologist at the University of Michigan’s Frankel Cardiovascular Center, says the seriousness of this dizziness, however, mostly depends on the root cause.
Dizziness after standing up too fast has to do with blood pressure. “When you stand up, gravity comes into play, and blood tends to pool in the lower part of your body,” Dr. Sutton says. So when you stand too quickly, sometimes orthostatic hypotension occurs—the blood pressure to the upper part of the body, especially the head, lowers when you stand up—causing feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness.
“Normally, blood vessels in the upper part of the body tighten or constrict when you stand up, in order for blood pressure to remain stable when you stand up,” she says. If your blood pressure is low to begin with, you might be more likely to experience symptoms of dizziness when you stand up thanks to poor circulation to your head. But Dr. Sutton says this is usually short-lived. “Once your blood vessels adjust to standing up, symptoms of dizziness should go away,” she says. Here are 7 other medical reasons you feel dizzy all the time.
Many things can impact blood pressure including dehydration, medications, heart conditions, and neurological problems, among others, according to Dr. Sutton. Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, MD, physician and health expert, adds that for some, this symptom could have to do with baroreceptor dysfunction. The baroreceptor reflex helps regulate sudden changes in blood pressure and failure could contribute to problems with recurrent orthostatic hypotension, according to Dr. Okeke-Igbokwe.
Some people are generally more prone to developing symptoms of dizziness when standing, Dr. Sutton says. If this is your case, remind yourself to take a moment and sit before standing, letting your body adjust to gravity. If this only happens occasionally, there isn’t a reason to worry. But it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor to determine the root cause if this is a new and or ongoing problem. Complications of ongoing symptomatic orthostatic hypotension include an increased risk of fainting and recurrent falls that could lead to fractures, especially in the elderly. There is also potentially the risk for stroke if the blood supply to the brain is frequently compromised, Dr. Okeke-Igbokwe says. Next, check out the 10 silent signs you could have low blood pressure.