Wednesday, December 30, 2009

POTS? What's That?

POTS stands for Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. It is a type of dysautonomia, which is a disorder of the autonomic nervous system that regulates many bodily functions. In basic terms, POTS means that when you stand up, your autonomic nervous system doesn't react quickly enough to the pull of gravity. Blood doesn't reach your brain quickly enough, which causes your heartbeat to speed up (tachycardia). When your brain isn't getting enough blood, it puts your body into a position where it can. The best position for this is horizontal. Hence, you faint (syncope).

POTS is difficult to diagnose because there are no visible symptoms (except for syncope, of course). The only definite way to diagnose it is a tilt-table test.
For this test, you are hooked up to an electrocardiogram (EKG) and blood pressure cuff. You are strapped to the tilt-table, which is basically a motorized hospital bed. Your pulse and blood pressure are taken while lying down, then the table is slowly lifted up. It stops at about an 80 degree angle, so you are almost standing upright. Your blood pressure is taken every minute or so, and the test continues until you faint or after about 30 minutes. The results are read by a cardiologist, who makes a diagnosis.

When I had this test, I did not faint, but I came close. I felt incredibly dizzy and asked for the test to stop. I was crying- it was horrible. Thankfully it was over, and when the EKG was read by my doctor, it was determined that I have POTS.

  • Dizziness upon standing
  • Sensitivity to heat, cold, bright light
  • Stomachaches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety

REMEMBER: I'M NOT A DOCTOR- I'M ONLY 16! This information is from my own personal research and knowledge. I'm just telling you what I know. Don't try to diagnose yourself. If you think you may have POTS, go see a doctor.

More information:


  1. Oh, dear...POTS at 16...I'm so sorry. But how serious is this? Is it treatable?

  2. Thank you, and it isn't very serious. It's different for each person, but it's definately not fatal. It's more of a "condition" than a disease. And yes, it is treatable, but it isn't curable. Thanks for reading! =)