POTS Syndrome – What is it?
POTS Syndrome, also referred to as POTS or Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, is a type of dysautonomia characterized by dizziness and a heart rate increase of more than 30 bpm upon standing. POTS Syndrome can be easy to miss, but if not properly diagnosed, patients can continue to suffer with many seemingly unrelated symptoms.
Chronic fatigue Dizziness Fainting
Constipation/gastroparesis Fast heart rate Mood disorders
Brain fog Shortness of breath Nausea
Headaches Tremors Body pain
Sensitivity to light and sound Heat/cold intolerance Flushing
POTS Syndrome is a form of dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system that can be completely disabling and yet patients can suffer for years before being properly diagnosed. Even worse, patients may be labeled as hypochondriacs, anxiety patients, or told their illness is all in their heads.
Many people with POTS Syndrome are given diagnoses such as ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, presumed Chronic Lyme Disease, Fibromyalgia, depression, Idiopathic gastroparesis, and Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome).
How can you spot POTS Syndrome?
When standing very still, patients with POTS Syndrome experience a rapid heart rate. This may take as long as ten minutes but as the blood pools in the lower extremities, patients usually begin to feel dizzy, shaky, nauseous, or faint and their heart rate increases. This informal diagnostic test is called a “Poor Man’s Tilt Table Test”.
The gold standard for official diagnosis of POTS Syndrome involves a (real) Tilt Table Test, but a “Poor Man’s Tilt Table test” can help confirm suspicions of POTS Syndrome.
Once the diagnosis is made, the search for the underlying medical causes of POTS can begin. The earlier the underlying cause is discovered, the more likely it is that a patient may fully treat their symptoms and significantly improve quality of life. Underlying causes may be related to (but not limited to) immune issues, inflammatory conditions, and endocrine problems.