Postural tachycardia syndrome can be very debilitating. Fortunately, there are many adjustments to lifestyle that can lead to an improvement in symptoms. It's hard work, but can make a real difference!
Treatment for PoTS falls into two different categories: Non-pharmacological (without medicines) and pharmacological (using medicines), with non-pharmacological therapies being the cornerstone of any PoTS treatments. In milder cases of PoTS, those therapies might be sufficient to control symptoms, and might be all that is needed.
PoTS has an impact on every aspect of life which include the physical, social and psychological. Symptoms tend to fluctuate from day to day making management a challenge. Medication can improve symptoms, but there are many non-pharmacological (without medication) methods which may help.
Factors which may have an impact on symptoms
- Time of day – symptoms tend to be worse in the morning
- Rapidly moving for a lying/sitting to standing position
- Food ingestion
- Extreme heat
- Physical exertion
- Menstrual period
- Prolonged bed rest or deconditioning (becoming unfit)
- Prolonged standing (*or sitting)
*Daily management of symptoms
- Pace yourself throughout the day. Try not to fit too much in – there will always be another day. Take your time and avoid rushing.
- Goals – be realistic; ensure that they are achievable.
- Planning – if there is something specific you need to do on a day, plan for it – rest well beforehand and create time to recover afterwards.
- Limits – learn to know and live within your limits.
- Avoid stress – the autonomic nervous system is the body's fight/flight mechanism, and is activated during periods of stress. PoTS sufferers tend to be very sensitive to stressors, whether they are psychological or physical, positive or negative.
- Infections worsen symptoms – rest and accept a reduction in activity levels. You may take longer than expected to recover.
- Stairs are a challenge– try to limit the amount of times needed to run up and down stairs. Walk up slowly and steadily. Take a lift where possible!
- Mobility aids – For those with the most severe symptoms, the use of a wheelchair or mobility scooter may be helpful to manage daily living.
- Elevating the head of the bed has also been recommended.
Stickman Cartoons from "You know you have PoTS when..." by Hannah Ensor, used under licence from stickmancommunications.co.uk
* Currently no available medical evidence. Based on patient experience and opinion.
Written by: Lorna Nicholson
Medically approved by: Dr Kavi, Prof Newton
Review date: 1/9/18