Wednesday, September 2, 2015

What is wrong with me?!

I have mentioned on here that I have health issues and that I am striving to have a more 'normal' life. I thought I would share one of the medical conditions I have. This is not the only health problem I have but it is the one I think I can possibly improve through fitness and more specifically building muscle.

I have a condition called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). My doctor believe it was caused by a viral infection years ago. I have had this condition for over 5 years. POTS affects the autonomic nervous system, which controls many things that happen automatically in our body. (get it? autonomic, automatic!) The autonomic nervous system (ANS) controls things such as heartbeat, breathing, blood pressure, digestion, and more! Since my ANS is messed up my heart rate and blood pressure are not receiving the correct signal telling them when to make changes to accommodate everyday activities such as sitting up or standing.

As the photo states, a change in position should result in a little bit of blood being pulled to the lower body but for someone with POTS a lot more blood gets pulled to the lower body due to gravity and the lack of a proper signal telling the blood vessels in the lower body to contract and stabilize blood pressure. For some the lack of blood in the upper body results in loss of consciousness, for others they see stars or lose their vision all together.  Along with this the heart rate also increases to attempt to compensate and get some blood moving and back to the head.

Along with these symptoms many with POTS suffer from headaches/migraines, digestive problems, abnormal sweating. chest pains, fatigue, shortness of breath, chronic pain, dizziness, lightheadedness, and heart palpitations.

It occurs most commonly in women. It is considered a rare condition because there is no cure and is not well known by many doctors. POTS is considered an "invisible illness", meaning from the outside we do not look sick. Many who suffer from this disease spend years getting a diagnoses because their symptoms are brushed off. There are medications doctors have found to have some success but they do not work on all patients and many patients are sensitive to medication because of the neurological condition. Many specialist will recommend exercise to build muscle and strengthen heart. This can be helpful but this is not an option for all patients due to the severity of their symptoms. I was unable to exercise until I found the right medication. I spent years trying other medicines and if I tried to exercise I would make myself 20xs worse and fear an ER trip was in my near future.

This condition can be very debilitating. I like many others can not drive or work due to the severity and amount of symptoms.  Sadly, like myself many who have POTS also have other health conditions as well. The reasoning for this is unknown as not much research has been done on POTS and other autonomic neurological conditions like it. 

Not all POTS patients are the same and this post is in no way a representation of all those suffering from POTS. 

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