Dysautonomia is a term for a group of diseases that include postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). In these conditions the autonomic nervous system (ANS) does not work properly. Dysautonomia is often, but not always, a type of neuropathy affecting the nerves that carry information from the brain and spinal cord to the heart, bladder, intestines, sweat glands, pupils, and blood vessels.
Dysautonomia occurs when something goes wrong in the Autonomic Nervous System and it can cause serious problems including blood pressure problems, heart problems, trouble with breathing and swallowing, and erectile dysfunction in men. These nervous system disorders can occur by themselves or as a result of another disease such as Parkinsons, CFS/ME, Diabetes or Alcoholism.
Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is a disorder that has orthostatic intolerance (OI) as the main symptom. Orthostatic Intolerance describes a condition in which an excessively reduced volume of blood returns to the heart and brain after standing up from a lying down position. The main symptom of Orthostatic Intolerance is lightheadedness or fainting.
Note: Always seek advice from a doctor before beginning any listed treatments. Treatments can affect everyone differently.
Orthostatic Intolerance (Lightheadedness or Fainting)
This lightheadedness or fainting is the main symptom for POTS. These symptoms are relieved by lying back down again.
Fludrocortisone (for those on a high salt diet):
Is a synthetic steroid which can be used to increase blood volume. A patients blood potassium levels should be monitored when on Fludrocortisone.
Is a hormone which increases red blood cell production which in turn increases blood volume. Erythropoietin also causes blood vessels to narrow.
This is a hormone that can help to decrease the heart rate, it works by reducing urine production and promoting fluid retention
Is an alpha agonist which works by narrowing blood vessels thus helping blood return to the heart.
Some individuals with POTS and OI find relief by using Beta receptor blocking agents.
Can be used to improve cognitive function/fatigue.
Clonidine and Methyldopa:
These meds lower the heart rate and may reduce blood pressure too by affecting the brain.
Narrows blood vessels in the abdominal cavity. This medication is given by injection.
Acts on the nervous system in which can reduce heart rate. Can have gastro side effects such as stomach pain and diarrhoea.
Saline for POTS:
In a rescue situation 1 litre of saline solution administered over 1 hour can help provide relief.
Working with a trained practitioner can assist you to develop skills to calm anxiety and can also equip you with knowledge to find your next steps towards wellness. Please ensure that you find a practitioner who understands how to navigate the territory of complex chronic health conditions.
Water for POTS:
Drinking 2 glasses of water before getting up can help raise blood pressure.
Salt for POTS:
Individuals may benefit from increasing salt intake along with increasing fluids consumed.
Exercise for POTS:
There is some evidence that an exercise program may gradually help improve OI and POTS.
Small frequent meals for POTS:
Meals that are easy to digest and low in refined carbohydrates are ideal. They ease the workload on the digestive system which in turn helps keep increased blood flow around the rest of the body.
Compresssion Garments for POTS:
Compression garments of a medical grade can help with blood circulation.
Mindfulness for POTS:
Regular mindfulness helps to ease the body's stress response which enables people with Dysautonomia and POTS to manage and cope with their symptoms. Mindfulness is a set of skills for healing, intuition, insight, calmness, focus, resilience and hope that you can develop to counter the stresses that chronic illness brings. You can literally train your mind to promote healing. Mindfulness has a positive flow on affect into every aspect of a persons life. More info
Diagnosis is made by monitoring heart rate in the patient after rising from a lying down position. A POTS patient will have an increase in heartbeat of more than 30 beats per minute, or a heart rate that exceeds 120 beats per minute, within 10 minutes of rising.