One of the most common symptoms of hypertension is a mild to severe headache. Since a hundred other reasons are prevalent for a headache, diagnosis becomes difficult based on this symptom alone. However, these headaches, referred to as tension headaches, seem to occur more in the occipital region of the head. This means that the pain seems to throb at the back of the head. Again, these headaches seem to strike with greater intensity and frequency in the mornings. Headaches are one of the first noticeable symptoms.
2. Blurred vision
The eye is one of the most sensitive organs of the body and it is richly vascular. Hypertension leads to the damage of the retina due to the increased pressure of the retinal circulation. This condition has been medically termed as hypertensive retinopathy and it can result in the sudden blurring in the affected eye at times. This again, is a difficult symptom to be used for diagnosis as there are many medications that have blurred vision as a side-effect. However, if the person is not under any medication and develops blurred vision, it is almost certain that this is due to hypertension.
Dizziness is a feeling of the head reeling around. It exhibits as an impairment in the spatial perception and position stability. At times it can even lead to fainting. Dizziness is a confusing symptom because low blood pressure can cause it with equal frequency and intensity as high blood pressure. Even inner ear infections can cause dizziness. When the pressure of the blood in the vessels that supply to the brain goes up, it results in the impairment of spatial perception.
When the blood pressure goes beyond a certain limit, the more sensitive among the blood vessels begin to rupture and cause bleeding. Nosebleeds are very common in any nose injury because the blood vessels in the nose are very sensitive. Hypertension, therefore, is able to build sufficient pressure to cause a bleed. A normal bleed can be stopped by exerting pressure through the thumb or through a tourniquet. The nosebleeds which are caused due to hypertension are unique in the sense that they are very hard to stem and stop.
Palpitations are of various kinds. Basically, a palpitation is an abnormality in the heartbeat. It could range from something as simple as a few skipped beats to something as complicated as an accelerated heart rate that makes breathing difficult. Palpitations are quite common and they occur even in times of worry and nervousness. Knowing that one is having palpitations itself can cause anxiety and further accentuate palpitations! When there is hypertension, it is natural that the heart, which is the motor of the circulatory system, shows certain defects in the pumping. These defects manifest as palpitations.
Commonly known as ringing in the ears, tinnitus is another possible symptom of hypertension. It happens because of the perception of a sound in the inner ear when there is actually no external sound. This is usually caused due to age-based hearing impairment or due to exposure to very loud noise. This is because the sudden loud sound produces an acoustic shock from which the inner ear membranes take time to recover. The same effect can be replicated by a sufficient high blood pressure too. Thus, hypertensive patients often hear high-pitched ringing, swooshes, buzzing, hissing or clicking sounds in the ear.
7. Nausea and vomiting and fainting episodes
The blood is the chief circulatory fluid and is present all over the human body. It is natural, therefore, that an increased blood pressure exhibits its impact all over the body. One symptom is an unpleasant and queasy stomach. This can further get aggravated into vomiting or retching which occurs due to reverse-peristalsis. The loss of electrolytes and bodily fluids through vomiting along with the dizziness that hypertension brings on can often lead to fainting episodes in hypertensive patients. It is advisable, therefore, to keep them well hydrated and feed them electrolytes regularly.
As explained earlier, retinopathy caused by hypertension causes damage to the retina through damage to the retinal circulation. Many times, retinopathy does not exhibit any external symptoms. However, observed under an ophthalmoscope, changes can be observed in the optic fundus that is located at the back of the eye. These changes indicate hypertension for sure. Apart from that, they also provide two vital pieces of information, the severity of the retinopathy on a scale from 1 to 5 and the time period for which the patient has been hypertensive.
9. Additional signs and symptoms of secondary hypertension
Apart from hypertension causing certain symptoms, certain conditions can cause hypertension. Such a condition is known as secondary hypertension. Thyroid disease, truncal obesity, Cushing’s syndrome, acromegaly, renal artery stenosis and the general narrowing of arteries can result in hypertension. In these cases, one must be careful in identifying the symptoms and not confuse those of the original condition as symptoms of hypertension. Secondary hypertension is very complicated and often leads to an overlap of a variety of symptoms.