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Hypotension, or extremely low blood pressure, can cause different health problems. Generally, low blood pressure can be corrected with lifestyle changes, such as increasing your intake of fluids, changing your medications, and raising your legs.
Medicines are only given if your low blood pressure is causing complications.
Self-Care Tips and Remedies to Raise Low Blood Pressure
The following measures can help improve low blood pressure:
1. Increase your water intake
Dehydration can cause an electrolyte imbalance and, eventually, low blood pressure. Therefore, hydrate your body adequately, especially in hot weather or during diarrhea or fevers. (1)
2. Try ORS for immediate relief
ORS stands for oral rehydration solution which helps restore lost electrolytes in the body to avoid dehydration and low blood pressure. It is recommended as the first-line treatment for diarrhea by WHO.
It is sold as a packaged powder containing a number of essential salts like sodium and potassium and a bit of sugar, which has to be mixed into distilled water for consumption.
You can even prepare your own ORS by mixing a pinch of salt and sugar into distilled water. The sodium in the solution helps pick up your sinking blood pressure while the sugar helps restore your dropping glucose levels.
Precaution: ORS is a nonprescription tonic which can safely be consumed by people of all ages, except for people with diabetes due to its inherent sugar content.
3. Consume more sodium
Eating high-sodium foods, such as cheeses, meals containing soy sauce, salted nuts, and cured meats and fish, can help raise blood pressure. However, it is important to limit your salt intake between 10 g and 20 g per day, (2) since an excess can lead to hypertension.
4. Avoid alcohol
Although alcohol usually causes high blood pressure, it can occasionally lead to an arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation, which may result in low blood pressure.
5. Stay active
Performing light exercises aids blood circulation throughout the body. Doing simple leg exercises before getting up can help blood movement.
6. Wear compression stockings
This prevents the pooling of blood in the legs, thereby keeping the blood in the upper body. Elastic compression stockings are found to be effective in preventing hypotension for patients having hemodialysis. (3)
7. Avoid staying in the heat for long
Prolonged exposure to heat, including hot showers or baths, can lower your blood pressure by causing your blood vessels to dilate.
8. Don’t stand up too quickly
Sudden or rapid movements or postural changes after an extended period of rest can often trigger low blood pressure and even dizziness. This is particularly noticeable when you get out of bed after sleep or stand up after sitting for too long.
People who are prone to hypotension should, therefore, be mindful about changing their position gradually rather than abruptly. Take your time in getting out of bed by first slowly turning on the side, sitting up and then getting on your feet.
9. Eat small portions but eat frequently
Eating too much in one sitting can sink your blood pressure sharply after the meal, but starving yourself by not eating sufficiently can also make you go weak. Instead of consuming the standard three large meals a day, people with hypotension are advised to eat several small meals at short intervals distributed throughout the day.
10. Limit your carbohydrate intake
Another dietary change recommended for managing low blood pressure is to cut down on high-carb foods like bread, pasta, potatoes and rice.
11. Use extra pillows
When lying down, elevate your head with pillows to prevent orthostatic hypotension from getting up.
12. Include caffeine in your diet
It is seen that caffeine intake via coffee and black tea helps improve blood pressure in elderly patients with postprandial hypotension. However, further studies are needed to establish this claim. (4)(5)
13. Consume a healthy diet
Include fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet. Eat small meals throughout the day with healthy snacks in between, and reduce your carbohydrate intake.
14. Consult your doctor
Seek medical advice if you have diabetes or heart, liver, or kidney problems and are having low blood pressure.
Herbs That May Help Improve Low Blood Pressure
Licorice and rosemary may aid in raising your blood pressure to normal ranges.
Consume one unsweetened, non-jelly pure licorice candy in the morning for 2 weeks to help raise blood pressure.
Licorice may also be consumed in supplement forms containing glycyrrhizin, which works by lowering potassium levels and raising blood pressure. These effects, however, can be dangerous, and it is advised to check with your doctor before starting on any supplements. (6)
You may dilute rosemary oil and consume it thrice a day to help increase blood pressure.
A study conducted in 2015 demonstrated the antihypotensive effect of rosemary essential oil and its contribution to the improvement in patients’ quality of life. Further studies will help establish its efficacy. (7)
Low blood pressure is a common condition that requires treatment only if it is manifesting symptoms or becomes too low. It is advised to sit down or lie down if you feel light-headed due to the blood pressure drop. Consult your doctor if the condition does not improve with self-care measures.