Have you ever gotten up too quickly and experienced a head rush? Here’s what causes this condition and what you can do about it.
You may have heard the term “head rush” and wondered what this expression means from a medical standpoint. A head rush is a term used to describe a brief fall in blood pressure that occurs when a person stands up too quickly or changes position suddenly. The symptoms of a head rush may include a momentary sensation of dizziness, dimming of vision, lightheadedness, or in rare cases, actual fainting can occur. As you might expect, this sensation can be frightening to those who experience it.
What Causes a Head Rush?
The symptoms of a head rush arise from the brief, but rapid fall in blood pressure. When in a sitting or squatting position, blood can pool in the feet and ankles. When moving from a sitting to a standing position quickly, the body may not adjust quickly enough to the reduced blood volume and the result can be a brief sensation of lightheadedness and dizziness. Although a head rush can occur in a normal person on occasion, especially in warm weather or immediately after eating, if it happens frequently it can indicate a medical problem.
Factors That Cause a Head Rush
In a healthy person, certain underlying factors increase the risk of developing symptoms of a head rush. Not drinking enough fluids or getting inadequate amounts of electrolytes such as sodium and potassium can cause dehydration which lowers blood volume and can lead to a head rush. This is more common when it’s hot outside. Drugs such as blood pressure medications, heart medications, diuretics, anti-depressants, and marijuana are another common cause. The symptoms of a head rush are more common in the elderly and those who have been on prolonged bed rest.
More serious causes of a head rush include decreased blood volume due to anemia, certain types of heart and neurological diseases, diabetes and Addison’s disease. If symptoms occur more than occasionally, medical attention may be needed. Most isolated episodes of head rush that occur infrequently are not due to underlying disease.
How to Prevent a Head Rush
The symptoms of a head rush can usually be prevented by getting up slowly from a lying or sitting position, particularly in warm weather and after eating a large meal. Drinking electrolyte rich fluids such as Gatorade in the summer can also be helpful. Eating regular, small meals rather than larger ones helps to prevent the drop in blood pressure that occurs after eating. If medications are a factor, they may need to be adjusted by a doctor.
Taking these steps can help to reduce the chance of experiencing a head rush, but if the symptoms persist, it’s best to see a doctor.