Finding relief for sufferers of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome

Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, or ‘POTS’ is a condition where you find it difficult to be upright without experiencing side effects, such as dizziness or fatigue.

We’re still learning about this debilitating condition, but the good news is that physiotherapy and exercise are two great ways to keep POTs under control.

What is POTS?

No, it’s nothing to do with gardening! POTS stands for Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, which is a Neurological condition that affects the blood flow (circulation) through the body.

It’s one of a range of disorders that affect the autonomic nervous system, which control functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and kidney function. Collectively, these conditions are known as “dysautonomia” (don’t worry, we won’t make you pronounce it). POTS is the most common of these disorders but is often difficult to diagnose.

It’s often a misunderstood condition and is a relatively new recognised syndrome (1993 by Dr. Philip Low), that has been a medical mystery for a long time.

What are the symptoms of POTS?

Technically, someone has POTS if their heart rate increases by 30 beats per minute (bpm), or their heart rate is >120bpm (excessive tachycardia) within 10 minutes of standing up from a reclined position. Other main symptoms with this orthostatic intolerance (a condition that feels worse with standing and relieved by lying or sitting down) is light-headedness or fainting.

There are usually a cluster of many uncomfortable symptoms, such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Heart palpitations
  • Pain
  • Brain Fog
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Light and sound sensitivity
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Malnutrition
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Blood pooling
  • Tingling
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Nausea
  • Heat intolerance

Who suffers from POTS?

The majority of POTS patients are women aged 13-50 years old. Some have frightening and disabling symptoms for many years before understanding the cause and getting the correct diagnosis. Some specialists use a tilt table to make the diagnosis.

Each case of POTS is different, which can make diagnosis even more difficult.

Is there a cure for POTS?

Unfortunately, no, there isn’t a cure for POTS.

There is good news though.

There are lots of things you can do to help the symptoms such as:

  • increasing salt intake
  • increasing fluid consumption (2-3L per day)
  • medications
  • lifestyle modifications
  • wearing compression stockings
  • exercise

And let’s not forget the most important bit: Physiotherapy and exercise! They’re both really important in POTS and all forms of dysautonomia.

How can the PPG team help?

The team at Progressive Physiotherapy Group can help by recommending Melbourne specialists that are experienced in treating autonomic disorders to your local GP.

If you’ve been diagnosed with POTS, we can guide you with a gentle, progressive, suitable exercise plan that is designed for your individual needs.

Sometimes it can even be as simple as reclined exercises, which will keep you moving while avoiding the upright position which can make the symptoms worse.

Often patients end up doing less and less and become quite deconditioned, which can worsen the situation. That’s why exercise is so important, and this is supported by the emerging research that highlights the positive impact of having a structured exercise program with POTS.

Any invisible illness is a long road to relief, finding health professionals that understand your condition is invaluable.

Get in touch

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of POTS, or would like more information about the condition and how we can help, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can also read more about dysautonomia on the official website.

If you’re in any pain or discomfort you can book in with one of our experienced physiotherapists by calling Di on 0497 111 127 or heading to the website to book an appointment.