Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) , is a condition that can significantly impact your quality of life. Understanding this condition can help you learn how to cope and move forward with your life.
Below, we explore this condition, its symptoms, how it’s diagnosed, and the treatment options available.
Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome is caused by the body’s autonomic response system not functioning correctly. The truth is that our bodies do a lot of things without us ever needing to think about them, such as beating your heart, maintaining your blood pressure, helping you balance, breathing, and so on. Our autonomic nervous system regulates these responses. Yet, a problem with our autonomic responses can lead to serious issues.
The autonomic system is responsible for regulating our blood pressure. This means that when we sit up, lie down, stand up quickly, or get into other positions, our blood pressure stays the same. In a person with POTS, the autonomic system doesn’t properly regulate blood pressure and blood flow to the brain. As a result, when you move, you may experience dizziness, nausea, balance issues, and other problems.
POTS can be mild, or it can be severe — even disabling. It all depends on how badly the autonomic system is damaged.
The symptoms of POTS are more noticeable when going from sitting to standing. While there’s no hard and fast cause of POTS, it’s possible that an injury or infection could trigger the onset of POTS. Stress can also trigger POTS attacks. However, in some cases, symptoms of POTS may appear with no obvious trigger.
A few common symptoms of POTS include:
As you can imagine, all of these symptoms or even various combinations of these symptoms can be caused by other conditions, not just POTS.
So, let’s talk a bit about how POTS is diagnosed and how to live with it.
An erratic or abnormal heart rate that presents itself when a patient stands or moves suddenly is the most common and well-known POTS symptom. However, it’s certainly not the only one nor is it necessarily the only criteria for diagnosing POTS. There may be any or all of the symptoms described above, and a doctor must be sure that the symptoms really are caused by POTS and not another condition.
For an adult to be diagnosed with POTS, they must present with a 30 beats per minute (bpm) heart rate increase within the first ten minutes of standing. Your doctor will likely use a test called the “table tilt test” to determine if this is happening or not.
The table tilt test is a safe and effective way of monitoring how a patient’s blood pressure and heart rate responds after standing — without risking injury or fainting. The patient is strapped to a flat table in a lying position. Then the table tilts, lifting the patient into a standing position.
This makes the brain think that the body is standing up, and our autonomic systems react accordingly — or it doesn’t react. Heart rate, blood pressure, and other information are monitored during this test. Other tests may be ordered to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms before diagnosing you with POTS.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with POTS, you might wonder: Now what? How can you live with this condition? POTS is a chronic illness. However, there are things that you can do to manage your condition. These include:
POTS is a complicated condition, however there can be factors that may be treated. Since POTS is a condition that affects the whole body and many different functions, each person might have a different experience with POTS.
If you’re struggling to cope or find treatment that works for you give us a call on 03 9800 5350 to book in an appointment with our Neuro-Rehabilitation chiropractor, Dr. Matthew Holmes.
We can offer strategies and treatment methods that may help you lead a relatively normal life, even while living with POTS.