Hypotension Headache – Symptoms, Causes, and Management

Hypotension, also known as low blood pressure can cause headaches if the blood pressure drops too low. Hypotension headache is not a common phenomenon but several patients with chronic headache conditions have reported hypotension as a trigger. Blood pressure equal to or lower than 90/60 can be stated as low B.P. Pain is typically felt at the back of the head but if hypotension triggers any other headache condition, the pain is felt in the respective region.

Symptoms of hypotension headache

The headache is usually mild to severe in intensity depending upon the severity of ischemia in the brain. Other symptoms that can accompany the headache are:

  • Pain at the back of head
  • Light-headedness
  • Confusion
  • Lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Palpitations
  • A weak pulse
  • Cold and sweats

Causes of hypotension headache

  • As the blood pressure drops, the blood supply to the brain decreases, and the brain does not get enough oxygen and nutrients. This creates a state of hypoxia. Very less blood flow toward the brain can lead to ischemic shock which releases inflammatory mediators that cause headaches. The pain usually increases upon bending forward or lying down.
  • Low blood pressure can be due to excessive electrolyte loss by vomiting and diarrhea especially in summer when the body is already on the verge of dehydration.
  • Excessive bleeding can also lead to hypovolemia, thus hypotension and ischemic stroke to the brain.
  • Some inflammatory conditions such as pancreatitis can also cause hypotension as fluid enters the inflamed tissue around the pancreas and in the abdominal cavity, escaping from the blood vessels and resulting in concentrated blood and hypovolemia.
  • Bradycardia that is slow heart rate can also decrease the amount of blood pumped by the heart resulting in low blood pressure, lightheadedness, and sometimes even syncope (fainting).
  • Some medications can also cause hypotension, such as: calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, antidiuretics, ACE inhibitors, and alpha-blockers.

Management of hypotension headache

Blood pressure management is generally recommended to treat hypotension headache. Here are some preventive and medicinal treatments along with home remedies for hypotension that can help.

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Diagnosis

Your doctor might ask you to monitor your blood pressure over a few days. He might also ask you to get some blood tests done such as a complete blood count, electrolyte measurements, cortisol levels, etc.

Prevention

  • Monitor your blood pressure so that any change in BP can be managed
  • Add salty foods in your diet
  • Drink plenty of water to keep your blood volume up to the mark.

Medical treatment

  • Fluids and electrolytes such as oral rehydration serum are given to combat dehydration.
  • Hypovolemia due to blood loss can be treated by giving IV fluids and blood transfusions.
  • Any sort of medicine that might be causing hypotension can be adjusted by stopping the medicine for the time being.
  • Indomethacin can also be taken for pain relief.

Home Remedies

  • Eat in small portions
  • Drink more fluids
  • Drink coffee
  • Use compression stockings to avoid pooling of blood in the leg veins

When to consult a doctor?

If your headache becomes severe in intensity and is not relieved by taking medication and managing your B.P. you should see the doctor. Or if your pulse drops too low and you start feeling dizzy or light-headed you should consult the doctor.

FAQ

Could my medicine be causing me hypotension headache?

Yes, some medicines cause hypotension such as beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, alpha-blockers, etc.

How do I know if I have a low B.P?

Low blood pressure can be diagnosed by monitoring your BP, and getting some blood tests done such as CBC, serum electrolytes, and RFTs to get to the underlying cause.

What can happen to me if I have hypotension?

Hypotension if mild only causes dizziness, lethargy, weakness, and headache. If it becomes severe it can lead to weak pulse, bradycardia (low heart-rate), fainting, and even severe shock.

What should you eat when experiencing low BP?

Foods with high salt content, high water content, and caffeine can help with hypotension.

Last medically reviewed on September 7, 2022.