Postural hypotension happens when a person experiences a significant drop in blood pressure when they stand up. When this happens, it can lead to unwanted symptoms like dizziness, blurry eyesight, fainting, and plenty more. This, like many other conditions involving autonomic dysfunction, can make it more difficult to travel by train.
If (like me!) you’re new to managing a condition like this while also trying to get out and about as much as possible, here are some useful tips and tricks to help you take care of yourself…
Book Passenger Assistance to reduce standing and walking times. Even if you don’t usually use mobility aids, it’s free and easy to borrow a station wheelchair and request assistance from a member of staff. Once you’ve booked a train ticket, head over to the Passenger Assistance app or booking website to request the support you need. Even if using a wheelchair reduces just a few minutes that you’d otherwise have to stand up or walk to board your train, it can make a world of difference!
Use Travel Bands to manage symptoms. These are affordable accessories that you wear on your wrists while travelling. Each acupressure band has a small button on it, which you wear over the pressure point on each of your wrists. Although Travel Bands like these don’t treat the underlying issue, they can help to reduce dizziness and nausea while you’re on the move. My best advice is to put them on before you start moving, rather than waiting until you’re on the way to your destination.
Keep hydrated. Not drinking enough water can lead to a drop in blood pressure and exacerbate symptoms of hypotension. Although some people feel thirsty and dehydrated more often because of their condition, it’s absolutely vital to make sure we’re taking in enough water. Treat yourself to a reusable cup, and make sure you’re always carrying a drink with you.
Have salty snacks on standby. Increasing your salt intake is one of the most effective ways to manage postural hypotension and relieve symptoms. Make sure you have your favourite salty snacks (such as crisps or popcorn) to hand, or if they’re deemed suitable by your medical professional, you may also benefit from taking electrolytes. Some people with autonomic dysfunction carry small sachets of salt around in their handbags and ‘shot’ them when they feel their symptoms coming on, but I can’t say I’ve tried this for myself yet!
Elevate your legs while travelling. It’s not always easy to elevate your legs when you’re on the train, especially if it’s a busy service. However, even just crossing your legs underneath you while sitting on your seat can help to avoid a drop in blood pressure. If you’re a wheelchair user who transfers to a seat, I position my wheelchair in front of me so I can stretch out my legs and rest my feet on it. It has the bonus of being very comfortable too!
Hope these tips help you to take care of yourself and enjoy the journey!
About the Author
Pippa Stacey is a disabled writer, influencer, and presenter based in Yorkshire. She also works in communications consultancy in the charity sector and has been named by The Disability Power 100 as one of the most influential disabled people in the UK. In her free time, Pippa enjoys theatre, reading, travel, and blogging about her experiences at Life Of Pippa.