Thursday, March 17, 2016

STOP POTS?

With the warmer season quickly approaching, I am prepared for the Florida heat to induce a flare, or two, or three. It got me thinking about what I wish I had known upon my initial Dysautonomia/POTS diagnosis six years ago.

So, you have just been diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). Now, what? If your experience was similar to mine, your head is probably spinning. The term POTS is quite the mouthful.

For those not "in the know," POTS symptoms normally occur upon standing, as a result of the body's negative response to regulating postural changes. Symptoms consist of lightheadedness, fainting, tachycardia, chest pains, shortness of breath, shaking, exercise intolerance, temperature sensitivity and more. While POTS predominantly impacts young women who look healthy on the outside, researchers compare the disability seen in POTS to the disability seen in conditions like COPD and congestive heart failure.” [ x ] 



While being thrust head first (well, maybe, face first...hahaha) into the world of medical jargon is overwhelming, there are ways to make life as a POTSie a tad easier. 


Helpful Hints to Manage POTS:

   Pace yourself, plan, and learn your limits - From one POTSie to another, it is imperative with this condition to not overdo yourself and to conserve energy. Setbacks are so not worth it! 
   Avoid stress. With POTS, the fight or flight response in the body is on the fritz…stress only increases that tenfold. 
   Mobility aids can be helpful! Wheelchairs, walkers, and mobility scooters can reduce fatigue and prevent injury due to fainting from standing. They do not have to be used all of the time. There is no need to be vain and avoid something that can increase your quality of life. Trust me, you will thank me later after you were able to spend hours at the mall or a theme park rather than laying in bed unable to get up. 
   Salt tablets and a cute water bottle such as this are a POTS patient’s best friend. Although high in helpful sodium, avoid drinks loaded with sugar like Gatorade. They are terrible on the gut and POTS patients definitely do not have time for that. Try making homemade electrolyte drinks instead. 
   Heat worsens the symptoms of POTS. Yes, Florida weather, I am referring to you. Cooling vests or towels can decrease symptom exacerbation when outside or other situations where there are warm temperatures. 
   Exercise! Deconditioning only worsens symptoms. It is important to stay moving, even if it is simply doing in bed exercises laying down. My personal favorites are the half-bridge, leg lifts, and bicycle exercises that are easily completed while binge watching One Tree Hill on Netflix. 
   Wear compression hose or socks. Compression stockings help the body push blood back up to the brain. When I first developed POTS, compression hose/socks were my worst nightmare. I was concerned about looking like a grandma. But never fear, there are fashionable ones here


Hopefully, this is helpful for raising awareness and spreading information. Sources: [x] [x] [x]