A Natural Approach to Living With POTS
Have you ever felt lightheaded or dizzy when you stood up? What if these symptoms persist and greatly affect your daily activities? This is what people with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) experience. POTS is a disorder that causes an abnormal increase in heart rate upon standing, leading to a decrease in blood flow to the brain.
What is POTS?
POTS is a type of dysautonomia, which is a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. Normally, the autonomic nervous system controls our body's involuntary functions such as heart rate and blood pressure. However, in people with POTS, the brain does not receive the correct signals to regulate heart rate and blood flow, causing symptoms such as lightheadedness, fainting, and fatigue.
How Does One Get POTS?
The exact cause of POTS is still unknown, but it can occur after a viral illness or after an injury that affects the autonomic nervous system. It is also more common in women than men, and frequently affects people with preexisting conditions such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), lupus, or chronic fatigue syndrome.
What Are the Symptoms of POTS?
The symptoms of POTS often begin after standing up from a sitting or lying position, and may last for hours. These include:
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or sudden fainting
- Tachycardia or rapid heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Blurry vision
- Brain fog
Since these symptoms are not life-threatening, POTS is often misdiagnosed or disregarded by healthcare professionals.
Can POTS Be Managed Naturally?
While there is no cure for POTS, there are several natural treatments that may help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. It's important to note that these treatments should be used in consultation with a healthcare professional.
Here are some natural approaches that may be beneficial.
Increased Fluid and Salt Intake
Increasing fluid and salt intake can help expand blood volume and improve symptoms. Ensure you're consuming an adequate amount of water and speak to a healthcare provider about the appropriate amount of salt to add to your diet.
Wearing compression stockings or compression garments can improve blood circulation and reduce symptoms such as lightheadedness and leg swelling.
Physical Counterpressure Maneuvers
Techniques such as leg crossing, squatting, or tensing muscles in the lower body can help prevent blood pooling in the legs and improve blood flow to the brain.
Engaging in a tailored exercise program under the guidance of a healthcare professional can improve cardiovascular fitness and orthostatic tolerance. Low-impact exercises like swimming, cycling, and recumbent biking are often recommended.
Some individuals with POTS find that certain dietary modifications can help alleviate symptoms. It may be worth exploring a diet rich in whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoiding processed foods, caffeine, and alcohol may also be beneficial for some people.
Stress Management Techniques
Stress can exacerbate symptoms of POTS. Incorporating stress management techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or mindfulness can help promote relaxation and reduce symptom severity.
Adequate Rest and Sleep
Prioritize getting sufficient rest and quality sleep to support overall well-being and symptom management.
Extreme temperatures can worsen POTS symptoms for some individuals. Staying hydrated, avoiding excessive heat or cold, and using cooling techniques like cold packs or cooling vests may help.
Supplements for Managing POTS Symptoms
Supplements may be considered as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. However, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplements, as they can interact with medications or have contraindications. Here are some supplements that have been suggested to support individuals with POTS.
Electrolyte supplements: POTS patients may experience dysautonomia-related dysregulation of electrolytes. Supplements containing electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, and sodium may help maintain electrolyte balance.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish oil supplements, have anti-inflammatory properties and may provide cardiovascular benefits. They can potentially help reduce inflammation and improve overall cardiovascular health.
Coenzyme Q10: CoQ10 helps improve heart function and energy production
Magnesium: This mineral can reduce heart palpitations and muscle pain
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is important for bone and muscle health and to help support the immune system.
POTS is a complex and often misunderstood disorder that affects many people. However, there are natural ways to manage its symptoms, such as hydration, salt intake, exercise, and stress management. In addition, certain supplements can also help alleviate symptoms and improve overall health. If you believe you may have POTS, consult with a healthcare professional to get an accurate diagnosis and create an individualized treatment plan.
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