6 Unexpected Symptoms Women Shouldn't Ignore
Best-case scenario: You stood up too fast. Or it could be orthostatic hypotension (OH), aka dizziness or lightheadedness after standing, which can be caused by relatively innocuous things like dehydration or spending too much time in heat. It could also be triggered by the medications you’re on. High blood pressure meds like beta-blockers, diuretics and ACE inhibitors, along with antidepressants, are known to cause OH. (Dizziness can also be caused by iron-deficiency anemia, though it wouldn’t be limited to times when you go from sitting to standing, and you may also have symptoms like serious fatigue, headaches, and shortness of breath.)
Why it could be more serious: OH can be an early sign of medical problems that mess with your body’s ability to control your blood pressure, including diabetes and neurological conditions like Parkinson’s and multiple system atrophy, says Christopher Gibbons, MD, associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. “It’s the canary in the coal mine,” he says. Gibbons published a study last year showing that among 165 people with delayed orthostatic hypertension (a milder from of OH where it takes more than a few minutes to start feeling dizzy or lightheaded upon standing), 54 percent progressed to OH and 31 percent developed a degenerative brain disease like Parkinson’s or dementia with Lewy bodies within 10 years. Occasional I-stood-up-too-fast spins are normal, but if it’s happening at least several times a week and it goes away if you sit back down, you could be dealing with OH, says Gibbons, and it’s a good idea to get check out by your doctor. Treating the underlying disease typically takes care of the problem.