Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is a form of dysautonomia that affects blood circulation in the body. When patients with POTS go from sitting to standing, their blood vessels do not move around in the way that a healthy person’s would to keep their blood in their brains. Instead, gravity draws all of their blood to their feet. The lack of blood in the brain causes their heart rate to go up by at least 30 beats per minutes and their blood pressure to drop.
The effects of this are different for every patient. Many patients experience fatigue, lightheadedness, fainting, dizziness, heart palpitations, brain fog, blood pooling, headaches, and exercise intolerance, but there are a myriad of other symptoms (listed below) as well. Some patients are completely disabled by their symptoms, and others are much less afflicted. These dramatic differences are what makes POTS difficult to diagnose, treat, and research. Treatments for POTS vary based on the patient’s symptoms and the physician treating them. However, most patients benefit from increasing their salt intake and drinking 2-3 liters of water a day. For more information and on POTS, other forms of dysautonomia, and resources for patients and caretakers, check out dysautonomiainternational.org.
Headaches and migraine
Blood pooling (resulting in purple feet and legs)
Light and sound sensitivity
Shortness of breath