People later diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) often begin their journey to a diagnosis when they suffer from what seems like unrelated symptoms – respiratory infections, fatigue, sudden changes to blood pressure, and migraines, among others. Visits to the doctor often add to the confusion as medical professionals work through possible causes, including allergies.
POTS is a form of dysautonomia, a host of disorders that affect the autonomic nervous system. This branch regulates our body’s functions we don’t consciously control, such as heart rate and blood pressure. POTS sufferers will often experience an exaggerated increase in these two things when standing still for too long and experience sudden fainting.
The NIH has long been a leader in research for better treatments and cures, but they’re refocusing their efforts with an eye on one specific condition: POTS. Currently, there’s no cure for this often debilitating disease that leaves patients at the mercy of many comorbidities – although more knowledge will lead them down the road toward hope!
What Causes POTS?
POTS is a condition that some people develop for reasons unknown, so there are many possible causes. This includes genetic factors and events that precede it. For example, Some people report having an event like the start or end of pregnancy before experiencing symptoms.
However, many people cannot pinpoint any specific cause for their onset of being diagnosed with this rare condition. Researchers, therefore, believe the causes may include problems with one’s autonomic nervous system or immune systems.
POTS is a collection of symptoms that can be hard to understand for patients and researchers alike. Currently, the goal is to improve the markers and mechanisms associated with POTS so we know how it all works together in one cohesive unit.
The people who suffer from this condition have different experiences every day because they experience everything differently depending on what triggered an episode. Which makes them feel better or worse at any given moment.
How is POTS Treated?
Since there isn’t a cure, many people living with POTS focus on managing the symptoms. This is where treatments come in, including medication and lifestyle changes.
Getting enough salt intake and staying hydrated properly is the foundational treatment for this syndrome. Increasing your intake of salty foods and adding more salt to the diet helps keep water in our bloodstream. This helps with blood pressure, which improves circulation.
As blood circulation improves, the amount of exercise may be increased. This goal is to retrain the autonomic nervous system to handle more activity resulting in increased blood volume and oxygenation.
Treating the Causes of POTS Instead of the Symptoms
Researchers are turning their attention more on why POTS happens. Unfortunately, treatments aren’t really getting at the root problem, they just work for symptoms, and side effects of it like medications do right now- which will never be enough!
If we understand how these mechanisms interact better, then treatments could target the cause of the problem. Think of it as closing a wound versus just cleaning up the blood. Sure, you can use gauze to clean up the area, but it’s more effective to close the wound and stop the source of the bleeding.
POTS is often confused with other syndromes like chronic fatigue, myalgic encephalomyelitis, or fibromyalgia. Because of this, adequately performed tests are needed to differentiate between these conditions and POTS.
Hope for People with POTS
With an increased understanding of the causes and treatment options for postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, we can finally put a stop to this life-altering condition. The National Institute of Health is funding research on POTS to find its cause and potential treatments so that people who suffer from it have hope again.
We encourage you to take action by donating or participating in any fundraising efforts that promote awareness about POTs or provide funds for further research into the possible cures. Together, we just might be able to help these individuals live their best lives.
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