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What Is Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)?

Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) is not a disease, but a group of symptoms that are frequently seen together. Orthostatic intolerance is their primary symptom. An abnormal increase of the heart rate occurs immediately after standing up from a sitting or lying position.

POTS usually affects women between the ages of 15 and 50. However, anyone at any age can develop POTS. Many women have reported the signs and symptoms of POTS before menstrual periods.

What Causes Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)?

The real cause of POTS is not known. Many researches have shown that there are many mechanisms that can lead to POTS, like peripheral denervation or paroxysmal overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system.

Signs And symptoms Of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)

Signs and symptoms of POTS include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Shakiness
  • Rapid increase in heartbeat
  • Palpitations
  • Discoloration of hands and feet
  • Anxiety
  • Chest pain,
  • Bowel problems
  • Poor concentration
  • Poor memory
  • Visual disturbances
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain

These signs and symptoms are relieved by lying down again.

How Is Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) Diagnosed?

POTS is often misdiagnosed and many medical workers don't have any idea about this syndrome. Patients also don't pay much attention to the signs and symptoms that they might have, so often all these signs and symptoms are not related to one another.

POTS is often diagnosed as anxiety disorders, panic disorders, vasovagal syncope, chronic fatigue syndrome, phaeochromocytoma (a tumor that produces chatecolamine) and many other conditions that may cause low blood pressure.

The diagnosis is based on signs and symptoms and the level of blood pressure and heart rate when lying down, sitting and standing up.

How is Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) treated?

Until now, no treatment has been found to be effective for all the symptoms. Treatment usually is targeted at relieving the signs and symptoms of the syndrome, especially the low blood volume or regulating circulatory problems. Drinking a lot of fluids during the day and eating salty food may be helpful, because the amount of fluids in the body will be increased. This means that the amount of fluid in the circulatory system will be increased, leading to mild or no symptoms at all.

Some medications like Beta blockers, Fludrocortisone, Midodrine, and antidepressants, may be helpful.

There are some things that you can change or do in your everyday life to relieve the signs and symptoms of POTS like:

  • Physical exercise, especially swimming
  • Increase the intake of fluids and salt during the day
  • Avoid alcohol, smoking, hot tubs, saunas and heat
  • Sleep with head elevated
  • Eat small but frequent meals, low in carbohydrates.

According to research the Mayo Clinic conducted 2003 and 2010, POTS patients between 18.2% reported a complete resolution of their POTS symptoms, while 52.8% reported persistent but improved symptoms. Recovery was seen more in men than in women.

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