What is POTS? This Strange Disorder Has Doubled Since the Pandemic
In late 2021, after 18 months of long COVID symptoms, Oonagh Cousins, a member of the Great Britain rowing team, was ready to resume training. She had contracted COVID-19 in early 2020 and had been grappling with persistent fatigue, exercise intolerance, dizziness, and brain fog ever since. However, when she finally got back on the rowing machine, something felt terribly wrong.
The world seemed to spin around her, and her heart rate skyrocketed even with the slightest exertion. Cousins had unknowingly become a victim of POTS, or Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, a little-known disorder that has been on the rise since the start of the pandemic.
- POTS, or Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, is a disorder characterized by an abnormal increase in heart rate upon standing up.
- POTS has been on the rise since the start of the pandemic, doubling the number of cases in many countries.
- Long COVID, a condition where symptoms persist long after the initial COVID-19 infection, can often lead to POTS.
- Several theories suggest that the immune system dysregulation caused by COVID-19 may be a contributing factor to the development of POTS.
- Exercise can be beneficial for POTS patients, but it needs to be carefully managed to avoid exacerbating symptoms.
- Education and awareness about POTS are crucial to ensure timely diagnosis and appropriate management of the disorder.
POTS is a disorder characterized by an abnormal increase in heart rate upon standing up. It affects the autonomic nervous system, which controls bodily functions that are usually automatic, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion. Typically, when a person stands up, the body adjusts to maintain blood flow to the brain and other vital organs. However, in POTS patients, this regulation system malfunctions, leading to a rapid increase in heart rate and the onset of uncomfortable symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, and lightheadedness.
The exact cause of POTS is still unknown, but it is believed to be multifactorial. In recent years, POTS cases have been on the rise, with the pandemic exacerbating the trend. According to medical experts, the number of POTS cases has doubled in many countries, with more and more individuals reporting symptoms after recovering from COVID-19.
Long COVID, a condition where individuals experience persistent symptoms long after their initial COVID-19 infection, has been closely associated with the development of POTS. Many long COVID patients report symptoms similar to POTS, such as extreme fatigue, exercise intolerance, and cognitive difficulties. The prolonged inflammation and immune dysregulation caused by COVID-19 may contribute to the development of POTS in these cases.
Managing POTS can be challenging, especially since it is often misdiagnosed or overlooked due to lack of awareness. While there is no cure, there are treatment options available that can help alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life. Medications, lifestyle modifications, and physical therapy can all play a role in managing POTS.
Exercise is also an essential component of POTS management. Contrary to what one might expect, physical activity can actually benefit POTS patients. It helps improve cardiovascular fitness, increases blood flow, and strengthens the autonomic nervous system. However, it is crucial for POTS patients to engage in a carefully prescribed exercise program that is tailored to their individual needs and capabilities. Overexertion can lead to symptom exacerbation and may hinder progress.
Education and awareness about POTS are paramount to ensure timely diagnosis and appropriate management of the disorder. Healthcare professionals, especially those in primary care settings, should be knowledgeable about POTS and its association with long COVID. Public health campaigns and support groups can also play a role in spreading awareness and providing resources for individuals affected by POTS.
POTS, or Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, is a little-known disorder that has been on the rise since the start of the pandemic. Long COVID, with its persistent symptoms, is often associated with the development of POTS. While there is no cure for POTS, proper management and treatment can help alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life. Education and awareness about POTS are crucial to ensure timely diagnosis and appropriate care for individuals affected by this disorder.