Signs and Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure

older man with low blood pressure getting physical exam by doctor

Terry Vine / Getty Images

  • Low blood pressure, also known as hypotension, occurs when your blood pressure is below 90/60 mmHg.
  • Being hypotensive can make it difficult for your organs to get the blood and oxygen they need to properly function.
  • Common symptoms of low blood pressure include dizziness, nausea, and fatigue.

Blood pressure that is too low or too high can be harmful to your body. When your blood pressure is below 90/60 mmHg (millimeters of mercury), your healthcare provider will let you know that you have low blood pressure.

Low blood pressure—clinically known as hypotension—is a serious condition that can impair your body’s ability to send blood to your organs. That said, many of the symptoms related to low blood pressure (e.g., dizziness or rapid breathing) are related to poor perfusion (lack of blood flow) in your body.

You can experience low blood pressure suddenly, sometimes as quickly as going from sitting to standing. Other times, it can happen after you’ve been sick for a long time, are dehydrated, or have a serious infection. 

Whatever the reason, low blood pressure should prompt you to see your healthcare provider and receive the proper care to return to a normal blood pressure range. But first things first: knowing the symptoms of low blood pressure symptoms can help you learn when to make an appointment.


Low blood pressure can cause dizziness and lightheadedness. Sometimes, these symptoms may be so significant or disruptive that they may cause you to faint.

A common reason for dizziness in older adults is orthostatic hypotension—a condition that causes you to feel lightheaded when going from a sitting or laying down position to standing up. This can occur because your body’s blood vessels aren’t able to tighten up as quickly as they once could when you stand up, making it difficult for your brain to get enough blood in a short period of time. 

Nearly 60% of older adults with low blood pressure experience symptoms due to orthostatic hypotension.


Your brain and stomach are connected in many ways, which is why a lack of blood flow to your brain can cause nausea. This happens because the brain is the source of the “vomiting centers” that can make you feel sick to your stomach. If your blood pressure is too low, you can experience a lack of blood flow to your brain stem, which is where your vomiting centers are located. As a result, nausea and the need to vomit may occur. 

Some organs like your brain and heart have blood flow that is autoregulated, which means that even if your blood pressure gets low, they will still get enough blood. But, your abdominal organs (like your stomach or intestines) aren’t autoregulated. They depend on having enough blood pressure to get the blood that they need. Nausea can also occur due to a lack of blood flow to your stomach, which can release substances and chemicals that give you the feeling of needing to throw up.

Cold and Clammy Skin

When your blood pressure is low, your body will try to send blood to its most vital organs—which generally include the heart and brain. Some organs like your skin may not get as much blood flow. As a result, your skin can feel cold or be clammy to the touch.

If your skin appears blue in color, this is a very concerning sign of low blood pressure. You or a loved one should call 911 immediately for medical assistance if you have this symptom.  


Rapid Breathing

Rapid breathing—or, breathing more than 24 breaths a minute if you’re an adult—can occur with hypotension for different reasons:

  • Underlying illness: Having an underlying health condition, like pneumonia, can reduce your blood pressure and oxygen levels 
  • Needing more oxygen: If you’re experiencing low blood pressure without an underlying health condition, your body will work hard to deliver oxygen to other organs, which may cause your breathing to speed up 

Breaths per minute is not the same as beats per minute. The heart typically beats 60 to 100 beats per minute. Your breathing rate should be about one-fifth of that rate, at 12 to 20 breaths per minute. 

Fatigue and Weakness 

Low blood pressure can cause fatigue—or the feeling of being very exhausted despite rest. When you have hypotension, your body’s organs aren’t receiving enough blood flow, which can make you feel tired, drain your energy, and cause difficulty in completing everyday tasks. As a result of this, you can also experience weakness in your body.


Feeling thirsty isn’t always a sign of low blood pressure. However, some people experience low blood pressure because they are dehydrated. If you have been sick with symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or fever, you may be more likely to be dehydrated. The dehydration can then cause you to temporarily experience symptoms of low blood pressure. 

A good way to manage this symptom is by increasing your daily water intake, especially while you’re sick or for the first few days while you’re recovering. Drinking more water can bring your blood pressure to a normal range and improve your body’s ability to function.

Other Symptoms

Symptoms of low blood pressure can vary from person to person. While dizziness, nausea, cold skin, rapid breathing, and thirst may be common signs of low blood pressure, you may also experience additional or different symptoms. These symptoms include:

When to See a Healthcare Provider 

While symptoms of low blood pressure can be mild and sometimes go away on their own, experiencing severe symptoms that disrupt your daily life—such as dizziness, vision changes, or excessive fatigue—should warrant a visit to your healthcare provider. 

Although not common, low blood pressure can produce serious complications such as not being able to keep fluids down, having a very high fever, or noticing your skin turn blue. In such cases, you or a loved one should seek medical care immediately. 

Was this page helpful?
Sources uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Low blood pressure

  2. Palma J, Kaufmann H. Management of orthostatic hypotension. Management of orthostatic hypotension. Continuum. 2020. doi: 10.1212/CON.0000000000000816

  3. Sklebar I, Bujas T, Habek D. Spinal anaesthesia-induced hypotension in obstetrics: Prevention and therapy. Acta Clinica Croatia. 2019. doi:10.20471/acc.2019.58.s1.13

  4. Sharma S, Hashmi M, Bhattacharya P. Hypotension. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022.

  5. American Heart Association. Low blood pressure - when blood pressure is too low

Related Articles