Neurally mediated hypotension is most often treated with a combination of increased salt and water intake in conjunction with drugs that regulate blood pressure. Some drugs work by allowing the kidneys to retain sodium and others block the body’s response to adrenaline, which can kick-start the blood pressure abnormality. In addition, it is important to review your current medications with your doctor to ensure that these medications do not include drugs or vitamins that have the potential to make neurally mediated hypotension worse.
We want to emphasize, however, that the treatments require persistence, commitment and the willingness to try several possible drugs and combinations over an extended period of time. Because there is a risk of serious side effects with some of the drugs such as elevated blood pressure, elevated sodium levels, lowered potassium levels, or depression, careful monitoring by a physician is required.
Your treating physician should work with you to determine the best possible combination for your personal situation. In general, however, the first step in treating this problem is to increase fluid intake. We cannot stress this enough. Our patients who have discovered the importance of drinking fluids regularly throughout the day seem to do better than those who don’t take this task seriously.
For those who have been on a low salt intake we recommend an increase in the amount of salt they add to their food. The Appendix to this document contains a list of high salt foods, but specific foods are now conveniently labeled with sodium content for you to check. For some mildly affected individuals, an increased intake of salt and fluids may be all that is needed. Most of those with chronic fatigue syndrome and more severe symptoms require one of several medications in addition to the increased salt and fluid intake.
To be successful, though, the increased salt intake must be accompanied by a sufficient increase in the intake of water and other fluids (minimum of 2 liters of fluid per day). The Appendix also describes some of the drugs used for treating neurally mediated hypotension.