Do you feel dizzy or lightheaded upon leaving the table? You could be suffering from what’s known as postprandial hypotension, which is something that is said to affect to some degree 1 in every 3 adults.
“Postprandial” means after having a meal and “hypotension” means an abnormally low blood pressure (a blood pressure reading of less than 90/60 mmHg). Simply put, postprandial hypotension is an unusual drop in the blood pressure after eating, leaving you experiencing the usual symptoms of having low blood pressure.
It’s quite normal for blood to pool to the various organs of the GI tract after meals in order to partake in the digestive process. This phenomenon in someone who has postprandial hypotension tends to be exaggerated — more blood seems to be diverted towards the GI tract.
When this happens, the rest of the body fails to get enough blood, resulting in a drop in blood pressure. The effects of postprandial hypotension can be encountered 30 to 60 minutes upon standing up after a meal. The associated symptoms tend to go away around 90 minutes after eating.
Dizziness and weakness are telltale signs of postprandial hypotension. It’s not unlikely for some to experience syncope, or loss of consciousness in layman’s terms. The symptoms of postprandial hypotension tend to be worse when a person eats a rather large meal, especially if it’s rich in carbohydrates. The intake of alcohol before, during or after a meal can also bring about more intense symptoms of postprandial hypotension.
There is no available medical treatment for postprandial hypotension, but consulting a doctor about it is a good idea. This is especially true if it’s something that keeps you from leading a normal life. Then there are also some simple tips on effectively managing the problem. They are:
Have Small Frequent Meals
Because large meals tend to cause more blood to pool to the GI tract, it’s a good idea to opt for small frequent meals instead. Doing so will help keep the blood pressure from dropping too much, thus resulting in minimum unfavorable symptoms after having your meal.
Steer Clear of Meals High in Carbs
It’s true that we need carbohydrates. However, those with postprandial hypotension should try to limit their intake of the said macronutrient, which tends to cause significant lowering of the blood pressure. Including more high quality protein in the diet is also beneficial since it’s important for healthy blood vessels.
Avoid Taking Alcoholic Drinks
One of the many effects of alcohol in the body is the dilatation or relaxation of the blood vessels. This causes blood to pool in the lower extremities, resulting in the lowering of the blood pressure. Due to such, anyone with postprandial hypotension should avoid alcohol before, during or after meals.
Drink a Cup of Coffee
Caffeine in coffee is a stimulant, something that can cause the blood pressure to increase. After a meal, a person who has postprandial hypotension may consume coffee to help keep the blood pressure from getting too low. Other beverages with caffeine in them can also help keep minimize symptoms.
Remain Seated for Several Minutes
Just like what’s mentioned earlier, the symptoms of postprandial hypotension tend to dissipate in 90 minutes or so. During such time, it’s a good idea for anyone who is suffering from the condition to remain seated to avoid accidental falls. If the symptoms are severe, lying down may help.
Exercise on a Regular Basis
In between meals, it is a good idea for someone who has postprandial hypotension to walk or perform any other mild to moderate exercise as it will help in keeping the blood vessels in tip-top shape. Exercising on a regular basis is also good for the heart and blood pressure.