If you’re like 1 out of 3 Americans living with high blood pressure, then you and your doctor would probably be happy to see your blood pressure get lower. But is there such a thing as too low?
The answer is yes. It turns out, low blood pressure can be problematic sometimes—or even life-threatening in extreme cases.
In this article, we’ll talk about the warning signs and symptoms of low blood pressure, which can happen to anyone. By knowing how to recognize these symptoms, you and your loved ones will be more likely to get the early diagnosis, treatment, and prevention you need for a healthier heart, brain, and body.
But first, we’ll talk about what low blood pressure is and what sort of complications can arise if low blood pressure goes untreated.
What are the Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure?
A person with too low blood pressure may exhibit a number of uncomfortable signs and symptoms. These signs and symptoms aren’t specific to low blood pressure and can happen because of other conditions, too.
That’s why it’s important to speak with a doctor if you notice any of the following signs or symptoms so you can figure out what’s causing your discomfort.
1. Blurry Vision
Low blood pressure may lead to blurry vision or the appearance of unusual dark spots, colored spots, or “stars” in your line of sight. Some people may also start to see double or tunnel vision.
Why Low Blood Pressure Causes Blurry Vision
If your blood pressure is too low, your eyes may not get enough blood flow needed to function properly. This process can lead to blurry vision and other unexpected changes with your eyesight.
Dizziness is one of the most common symptoms of low blood pressure. It often feels like the room is spinning or moving. A person with dizziness may also complain of feeling lightheaded or “fuzzy.”
Why Low Blood Pressure Causes Dizziness
Low blood pressure can cause dizziness if there’s not enough blood getting up to the head and brain.
When Does Dizziness Occur?
This symptom may occur at any time, although most often low blood pressure causes dizziness after standing up too quickly.
A person with low blood pressure might suddenly start to complain of excessive or unusual thirst.
Why Low Blood Pressure Causes Thirst
Being thirsty often occurs due to dehydration, which is a common cause of low blood pressure. A person may crave something to drink when their blood pressure is low as an automatic reaction to address their dehydration.
Other Symptoms of Dehydration
- Dry mouth
- Swollen tongue
- Dry skin
- Dark yellow urine
- Decreased urine output
Sometimes, people with low blood pressure may report feeling anxious, depressed, moody, and sad.
Why Low Blood Pressure Causes Depression
Some studies have found that low blood pressure is associated with an increased risk of anxiety and depression. Researchers aren’t totally clear about why this happens, but one theory points to a relationship between blood pressure and certain chemicals in the brain involved in mood and stress response.
Symptoms of Depression
- Low mood
- Feeling empty
- Feeling helpless and despairing
- Intense feelings of guilt
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in weight
- Sleeping problems
- Difficulty concentrating
5. Fainting (Syncope)
Fainting, also called syncope (“sin-co-pee”) is one of the more alarming symptoms of low blood pressure. Fainting happens when a person suddenly and temporarily loses consciousness.
How Long Does Fainting Last?
Fainting usually only lasts a few seconds, but can leave a person feeling poorly for while after.
Is Fainting Serious?
Fainting isn’t always serious in itself, but it can lead to serious injury if a person falls and harms themselves.
Why Low Blood Pressure Causes Fainting
Low blood pressure can cause fainting if there’s not enough pressure in the blood vessels to carry blood into the brain.
People with low blood pressure often report feeling fatigued, tired, drowsy, and weak. They may have some shakiness, feel exhausted for no apparent reason, or feel like it’s difficult to move.
Why Low Blood Pressure Causes Fatigue
Our tissues and organs need adequate blood flow and oxygen in order to function properly. If our muscles and other tissues don’t get enough circulation because of low blood pressure, we may start to feel weak and tired.
7. Confusion (Altered Mental Status)
If low blood pressure happens suddenly, a person may start to act confused or unlike their usual self. They may have trouble concentrating or seem to “space out” or lack focus.
Why Low Blood Pressure Causes Confusion
Our brain controls our ability to think, communicate, and problem solve. If the brain doesn’t get enough blood, oxygen, and nutrients due to a lack of blood flow caused by low blood pressure, then a person’s mental status may be affected.
Sudden nausea, abdominal discomfort, or even vomiting can sometimes happen if a person has low blood pressure, especially if their low blood pressure is caused by dehydration.
Why Low Blood Pressure Causes Nausea
Without enough fluids in the body nor blood circulation to the stomach, a person may experience digestive upset.
9. Clammy Skin
People with sudden low blood pressure often notice their skin becomes palm, clammy, and cool to the touch. If blood pressure gets dangerously low, the skin may start to look blue or purple.
Why Low Blood Pressure Causes Clammy Skin
When your blood pressure gets too low, certain hormonal systems in your body may signal blood to flow away from your skin, arms, and legs so that more blood can be sent to vital organs like your heart and brain. With less blood flow to your skin, your skin can become cool and clammy.
10. Heart Palpitations
Heart palpitations often feel like the heart is beating very fast or irregularly.
What Do Heart Palpitations Feel Like?
Some people say it feels like their heart is fluttering or skipping a beat. If low blood pressure leads to the severe complication known as shock, a person’s heart beat (pulse) will feel weak and quick. A person may also have fast and shallow breathing, too.
Why Low Blood Pressure Causes Heart Palpitations
Low blood pressure is often caused by a heart beating too quickly and not forcefully enough. If your low blood pressure is caused by an abnormal rhythm of the heart, then the sensation of heart palpitations may be a first warning sign.
Rapid and shallow breathing may also occur as a stress response. This response is an attempt to quickly get more oxygen into the body, since the body feels like it’s starved of oxygen because there’s less blood circulating.
11. Aches and Pains
A lot of people with low blood pressure will complain of headaches, neck pain, or back pain.
Why Low Blood Pressure Causes Aches and Pains
Aches and pains can occur with low blood pressure if a certain area of the body doesn’t get enough blood flow and becomes deprived of oxygen.
The Most Shocking Symptom of All?
It’s one people never see coming…
12. No Symptoms
Many factors influence what a person’s blood pressure is, including diet, lifestyle, and genetics. Sometimes, a person may have low blood pressure but not have any symptoms or issues. So, they may not even know their blood pressure is low unless they have their blood pressure measured with a monitoring device.
Why Low Blood Pressure Causes No Symptoms
Low blood pressure can cause no symptoms if it’s consistently low for an individual. In these cases, low blood pressure usually isn’t a cause for concern. A doctor may just monitor a person’s blood pressure during routine check-ups.
What’s most important to remember about having low blood pressure?…
The above signs and symptoms of low blood pressure can vary by type, intensity, duration, onset, and frequency. They can change depending on factors such as what’s causing low blood pressure, how quickly it occurs, and the overall health of the person experiencing it. Often, more than one symptom will occur at the same time.
When Should You Call a Doctor?
The important thing to remember is that any unusual signs or symptoms should be discussed with a doctor. If the symptoms seem very sudden and severe (such as confusion, pale and clammy skin, rapid breathing, and a weak and fast pulse), then you should call 911 and seek medical attention right away.
What’s the Best Way to Minimize the Risk of Hypotension?
Diagnosing and treating low blood pressure as soon as possible is the best way to minimize the risk of complications and alleviate symptoms. Of course, in addition to knowing what signs and symptoms to look out for, it’s also important to be aware of what can cause low blood pressure.
Knowing the potential causes and risk factors of low blood pressure helps you know how to avoid it or prevent your blood pressure from getting dangerously low.