Irrespective of your position, whether you’re standing, sitting, lying down, or upside-down, your blood usually flows at a steady rate. However, if that rate changes when you change positions, it may result to a condition called orthostatic intolerance, or OI.
It can make you feel faint or lightheaded, especially when you stand up after lying down. Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is a disorder that has OI as its most common symptom. When you have POTS, most of your blood remains in the lower part of your body when you stand up. This makes your heart beat faster to try to get blood to your brain. The rate of your heart can surge up by 30 beats or more a minute after you stand up. Your blood pressure is likely to drop when this happens.
Women between 15 and 50 years old are more likely to have POTS, scientist are yet to fathom out why.
Symptoms of POTS
When your heart has to work extra hard and your blood pressure falls. Some symptoms of POTs include:
- Feeling dizzy or faint
- Blurry vision
- Nauseous or shaky
- Excessive sweating
- Brain fog
- Extreme fatigue
Easy tasks can make you feel like you’ve just run a long race. Other symptoms can include:
- Chest pain
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Neck pain
- Feeling hot or cold
- Feeling anxious, nervous, or jittery
- Unusual color in hands and feet
POTS symptoms may occur after you eat because your intestines need more blood flow for digestion.
Causes of POTS
Researchers are still working to understand exactly why it happens, but several diseases and conditions appear to make you more prone to have POTS. These include:
- Anemia (insufficient red blood cells)
- Autoimmune disease like Lupus
- Diabetes and pre-diabetes
- Infections like mononucleosis, hepatitis C or Lyme disease
POTS can be difficult to diagnose with such different signs and symptoms. A tilt-table test is thought to be the best way to test for it.
Your doctor will ask you to lie on a table and strap you in so you won’t fall when it tilts. The table starts in the horizontal position the slowly moves to a 90-degree angle. Your doctor will watch for changes in your heart rate.
Some people who have POTS may faint during this test. It’s important to work with a doctor who’s very familiar with the condition. This might be a cardiologist or a doctor who specializes in problems with your nerves and muscles.
POTS has no cure. However, your doctor may give you medicine to help with blood flow or recommend that you wear compression stockings to push the blood up from your legs to your heart.
You can do a few other things to help with your symptoms, too:
Diet. Increase your intake of salt and water because they keep fluids in your body and raise the amount of blood in your body. Instead, opt for nuts, pickles, olives, and salted broths. Eat smaller meals more often with a healthy balance of protein, vegetables, fruits, and dairy.
Exercise. With POTS, you may find it hard to remain active. However, even light exercise such as simple yoga or walking can help with blood flow and keep your heart healthy.
Lifestyle. If you get tired easily, you may not always have the energy to take care of yourself. Learn how to take your own pulse and blood pressure. Ask your doctor what your numbers should be, and check them regularly.
Sleep. Try to stick to a sleep plan. Raise the head of your bed to make it easier to stand up after lying down.