Have You Suffered Since a Concussion? You Might Have POTS

By Colorado Integrative Neurology

The most common disease you’ve never heard of.” That’s how Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome — also known as POTS or dysautonomia — was recently described by Dysautonomia International Co-Founder and President Lauren Stiles.

POTS affects an estimated 1 to 3 million Americans, including one in 100 teens, according to the organization. But despite how widespread it is, little is known about this disorder, and few in the medical community understand how to treat it.

To put it simply, POTS is a condition where your blood flow doesn’t work the way it should because of dysfunction in your nervous system, which controls this and many other functions of your body. This can lead to uncomfortable symptoms that make it difficult to lead a normal life. While there are several causes of POTS, concussions are a common one.

If you’ve recently suffered a concussion and haven’t felt right since, you may have concussion-related POTS.

What Are the Symptoms of POTS?

In healthy bodies, blood flow remains constant whether you stand or sit. But if you have POTS, when you try to sit or stand most of the blood stays in the lower part of your body, reducing blood flow to your brain and organs. This is what causes your heart rate to increase and since the system doesn’t work well, this leads to a host of symptoms.

Exactly what symptoms occur vary from patient to patient, but here are some of the more common ones:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Temperature Intolerance
  • Digestive Issues
  • Difficulty Breathing

These symptoms can range from mild to severe, and can do everything from cause mild discomfort to severely impede your daily life. It’s not uncommon for people with POTS to have to stop working or going to school because of their symptoms.

How Do You Know If You Have POTS?

A classic finding in POTS is a heart rate that increases significantly when you go from lying down to standing. You can check this at home with a stopwatch and by taking your own pulse. You can also use your FitBit to check your pulse. Your heart rate should not increase more than 20 beats per minute.

At Colorado Integrative Neurology, we often see patients who come to us when they’re exasperated because they don’t feel well but can’t find answers as to why. Only a small portion of the medical community provides treatment for POTS. However, when you come to us, we can give you hope through rehabilitation. At Colorado Integrative Neurology, we evaluate the entire nervous system to thoroughly assess the problem.

What’s the Treatment for POTS?

POTS is a chronic condition, but according to the Mayo Clinic, about 80 percent of young people with the disorder grow out of it by their early 20s. No matter what age you are, there are a variety of therapies that we apply at Colorado Integrative Neurology that can help you feel like yourself again.

We perform a complete exam to analyze your symptoms and entire nervous system to identify exactly how POTS affects you. Because every POTS case is unique, so are the individual treatment plans we develop. Based on your specific symptoms, rehab methods may include any combination of vestibular (inner ear and balance-related), vision, tilt-table and sensory therapies.

How Can You Manage POTS?

There are several steps you can take to manage your symptoms more effectively.

Some of these steps include:

  • Pace yourself. Allow time for frequent breaks.
  • Slowly stand up from sitting. If you feel lightheaded, wait for that to stop before you take your first steps.
  • Eat small, frequent meals throughout your day.
  • Drink half your body weight in ounces of water, daily.
  • Restrict your access to digital screens as this can irritate some of your symptoms.

If these tips do not help you manage your condition, you many need a more customized approach. If you’re ready for a personalized plan to treat your POTS, contact Colorado Integrative Neurology today. Request a free discovery session with Dr. Shawn VanWinkle online or call the office at 720-328-5076.

Copyright © 2018 Colorado Integrative Neurology. All Rights Reserved. Shawn VanWinkle, D.C., D.A.C.N.B. is a Doctor at Colorado Integrative Neurology. To learn more about how we can help you with your health goals visit our website at www.coloradointegrativeneurology.com or email us at cin@coloradointegrativeneurology.com. A free initial consultation can be scheduled by calling our office at (720) 328-5076.