Why Does My Blood Pressure Fluctuate? Causes and Treatments for Fluctuating Blood Pressure

Fluctuating blood pressure

Blood pressure is a measure of the force of blood against your artery walls. Having a normal blood pressure is important to your overall fitness. If you have fluctuating blood pressure, it can cause health problems.

Your blood pressure reading consists of two numbers. The top number is systolic blood pressure and the bottom number is diastolic blood pressure.

It’s normal to have some blood pressure fluctuations because of what you eat and drink, the time of day, and stressors. But for some people, erratic blood pressure can become a health problem if it changes constantly.

Related Reading: Chest Pain on Right Side: Common Causes and Treatments

What Is Normal, High and Low Blood Pressure?

There is a range of blood pressure that is considered normal. If your blood pressure goes too high or too low, it can be a sign of a health issue.

You may feel the effects of this change, or it may not show any symptoms. The systolic and diastolic blood pressure is measured in mmHg. The blood pressure is usually reported as one number over the other.

Normal Blood Pressure

Normal blood pressure is when the systolic blood pressure is below 120 mmHg and the diastolic is below 80 mmHg. This would look like 120/80.

If you are in this range, then you have a healthy normal blood pressure. You can continue to practice healthy eating and regular exercise to maintain this.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is also called hypertension. This can happen when either the systolic blood pressure or the diastolic blood pressure goes higher than normal.

Usually, this only becomes a problem when it goes above 140/90. High blood pressure damages the blood vessels and may lead to heart attacks or strokes. If this happens regularly, you may need to make some lifestyle changes.

Low Blood Pressure

It’s more common for people to have a problem with high blood pressure. But some people suffer from low blood pressure or hypotension.

This happens when there is not enough blood pumping through your veins. Low blood pressure is when the systolic blood pressure is below 90 mmHg, or the diastolic blood pressure is below 60 mmHg.

Common Causes of Fluctuating Blood Pressure

Some people often experience a fluctuating blood pressure which is at times normal, or high, or low. Those people with blood pressure fluctuations may wonder why does my blood pressure fluctuate so much?

There are a few reasons why you could have fluctuating blood pressure:

1. Stress

Stress can cause a lot of changes in your body. It can cause high blood sugar, high heart rate, and high respiration rate. It can even cause erratic blood pressure. When you are stressed your heart may work harder to pump blood when the peripheral arteries contract.

2. Caffeine

Caffeine can also cause your blood vessels to contract. This forces your heart to work harder to pump blood through them because they’re smaller.

Drinking three to four cups of coffee a day can increase your blood pressure by 4 to 13mmHg. This is even more pronounced in people who do not drink coffee as much because they have a lower tolerance.

3. Medications

Some medications can increase your blood pressure. These can be over the counter medications or prescription medications such as anti-inflammatories and decongestants. If you think this is the cause of your fluctuating blood pressure, see your doctor before starting or stopping any medication.

4. Food

There are some foods that can impact your blood pressure. One, in particular, is salt. Salty foods can increase your blood pressure. It goes back to normal after a while but if you are sensitive to salt it can cause fluctuating blood pressure.

5. Dehydration

Dehydration can be one of the causes of fluctuating blood pressure in adults and children. When you don’t drink enough water, your blood thickens. This makes it harder for your heart to pump blood throughout your body.

6. Fever

When you have a fever, you can have erratic blood pressure. This is because your body is working hard to fight off the infection. When the fever goes away, so too should your fluctuating blood pressure.

7. Cholesterol

A buildup of cholesterol in your arteries will make them stiff and inelastic. This can lead to fluctuating blood pressure. If you eat too many fatty foods with cholesterol in them this can happen. It clogs your arteries and makes it harder for your heart to pump blood through your body.

8. Adrenal Fatigue

The adrenal gland regulates the hormones in your body. It can cause fluctuations in your blood pressure. Often this happens when people are chronically stressed or sick. This prevents them from having a regulated blood pressure.

Symptoms Associated with Fluctuating Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure has different symptoms than high blood pressure. If you experience both low and high blood pressure, it could be fluctuating blood pressure symptoms. Low blood pressure symptoms include dizziness, fainting, blurred vision, nausea, shortness of breath, and thirst.

High blood pressure symptoms include headaches, heart attack, and stroke. You won’t always know there’s a problem until it’s too late. So it’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly by your doctor.

Should You Worry About Fluctuating Blood Pressure

Small changes in your blood pressure are not a problem. That’s normal because of many different things can affect your blood pressure.

But fluctuating blood pressure that changes a lot between these categories is concerning. The categories of blood pressure in adults are as follows:

Health StatusSystolic Blood Pressure
(top number)
Diastolic Blood Pressure
(bottom number)
Low Blood PressureLess than 90Less than 60
Normal Blood Pressure90 -12060 -80
High Blood Pressure Stage 1140-15990-99
High Blood Pressure Stage 2160 +100 +

Fluctuating blood pressure in the elderly is concerning. These fluctuations can be a risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia. It can also put you at risk of stroke, heart failure, heart attack, and kidney failure.

Your doctor will monitor your blood pressure during your annual checkup. And he will track any trends or fluctuations that happen from year to year.

Natural Ways to Manage Blood Pressure

There are drugs your doctor can give you to manage your blood pressure. But the best way to manage your blood pressure is to make lifestyle changes.

Here are some of the treatments for fluctuating blood pressure that you can do at home.

1. Hydrate

Having plenty of water helps your heart work best. Staying well-hydrated helps all of your body’s health. Try to drink at least eight cups of water a day.

2. Eat Healthy

Try keeping track of what you eat for a week. Then compare your food diary to a target healthy diet. Cut out fats, sugars, and processed foods. Add more fruits and vegetables. Eating a healthy diet can help with your heart health and blood pressure management.

3. Exercise

Getting regular exercise is important to your heart health. You should be getting 30 minutes of exercise every day. Try running, walking, biking, swimming, dancing, or sports.

4. Quit Smoking

Smoking is unhealthy for your heart and it affects your blood pressure too. Quitting smoking will help your heart better manage your blood pressure.

5. Drink Less

Alcohol and coffee can both impact your blood pressure. By having too much of either, your heart has to work harder to manage blood pressure. Try having only one cup of each every day.

Managing your blood pressure is important for your health. It affects how your heart works. If your blood pressure fluctuates, it can be as dangerous as high blood pressure.

It’s important to have your blood pressure evaluated regularly by your doctor. It’s also important to make healthy lifestyle choices to keep your heart healthy and your blood pressure in control.

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Dr. David Cummings, MD

David Cummings, MD, is a medical reviewer and editor at Daily Health Cures. David received his medical degree from the University of Illinois.