POTS is when the heart rate increases very quickly after getting up from sitting or lying down. Symptoms can include dizziness, feeling faint, heart palpitations, and more.
Symptoms of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) may alleviate when a person lies or sits back down. Certain lifestyle changes and medications may help relieve some symptoms.
Read on to learn more about the symptoms of POTS. This article also discusses treatment options, risk factors, ways to manage symptoms, and more.
Symptoms of POTS can range from mild to severe. They can be different each day, and they may develop suddenly or more slowly over a period.
Other symptoms that may occur when a person stands up include:
Other symptoms that may occur include:
- digestion problems, such as:
- blurred vision or tunnel vision
- memory problems or brain fog
A person may find that their POTS symptoms are worse in the morning.
Several other factors that can make POTS symptoms worse include:
- feeling hot
- not drinking enough fluids
- eating certain foods, such as white bread and other refined carbohydrates
- too much rest
- drinking alcohol
It is best for a person to contact a doctor if they notice that any specific factors or situations appear to worsen their symptoms.
When a person lies down, the body does not have to work as hard to distribute blood to the heart and brain.
This is why some people may experience fainting or lightheadedness as a result of orthostatic intolerance. When the body is unable to get enough blood to the heart and brain quickly enough, lying down can cause a reduction of symptoms.
To help manage the symptoms of POTS, there are a number of steps a person can take. These can include:
- drinking plenty of fluids
- gently exercising
- sleeping with the head of the bed raised to avoid being completely flat
- sitting at the edge of the bed before getting up so that the body can acclimate to the change in position
- wearing support tights to help the flow of blood
- standing or sitting up slowly after lying down
- avoiding excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption
two glassesof water before standing
- increasing salt intake, only if a doctor advises
If these steps do not help relieve the symptoms of POTS, a doctor may prescribe medications. These
- fludrocortisone, to retain salt and increase blood volume
- midodrine, to increase blood volume and narrow blood vessels
- beta-blockers, to slow the heart rate
Some research suggests that POTS can develop after a person experiences the following:
- an infection
- a traumatic event
- certain vaccinations
There are several steps a doctor may take to diagnose POTS. They may first begin by performing a physical examination, taking a full medical history, and asking questions about a person’s symptoms.
Then, they may order various tests, which can include:
- blood pressure and heart rate tests, such as:
- blood and urine tests
- tilt table test
- active stand test, which involves measuring the blood pressure and heart rate after standing up
Diagnosing POTS can be difficult, as the presenting symptoms can be similar to several other conditions. Some of the diagnostic criteria for POTS can include:
- POTS symptoms when standing for a period of at least 3 months
- a continual heart rate of more than 30 beats per minute within 10 minutes of standing, or 40 beats per minute for people between 12–19 years old
- typically no drop in blood pressure when a person stands
If a person is experiencing symptoms and believes they may have POTS, it is best that they contact a doctor.
The doctor will be able to order tests to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other possible causes. They will also be able to advise on a suitable treatment plan and help the individual find ways to manage their symptoms.
Here are some more frequently asked questions about POTS.
How do you know if you have POTS?
If a person experiences certain symptoms, such as dizziness, heart palpitations, or feeling faint after standing, which then get better after they lie back down, they may have POTS. A doctor will carry out a series of tests to confirm a diagnosis of POTS.
What is the main cause of POTS?
It is not fully clear what causes POTS. However, POTS typically occurs when the autonomic nervous system (ANS) is not functioning properly. The ANS is in charge of bodily functions that we do not have to think about, such as heart rate.
POTS can also occur if a person has a low blood volume, or after a person suffers from an infection, illness, or traumatic event.
What does a POTS flare-up feel like?
Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome typically occurs when the autonomic nervous system is not functioning correctly. When a person has POTS, they may feel dizzy, lightheaded, and faint when they stand up from sitting or lying down.
Other symptoms of POTS can include heart palpitations, chest pain, breathlessness, fatigue, and brain fog.
A person may find that being hot, eating refined carbohydrates, high-impact exercise, and dehydration make their POTS symptoms worse.
Certain tips, such as avoiding alcohol and caffeine, staying hydrated, and standing up slowly, may help relieve POTS symptoms.
If POTS symptoms do not improve with lifestyle changes, a doctor may prescribe medications, such as beta-blockers, fludrocortisone, and midodrine.