This post is part of a series on postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, and how this affects my journey to running. For my previous post introducing pots, click here.
What Causes POTS?
From my understanding, the simple answer is that it isn’t completely clear, although a few means have been identified. “Viruses are thought to be the provoking factor in approximately 50% of POTS patients (Low & Schondorf, 1997, p. 279)” (source).
“Those at greater risk of the disorder are high-achieving teenagers or adolescents as they enter a growth spurt… The disorder is also more likely to occur in people who are very flexible or double-jointed and those with other affected family members. But even though some people may be genetically predisposed to developing POTS, Dr. Fischer said in an interview that an environmental insult seems to trigger its onset — an illness like mononucleosis, flu or a bad cold; an injury; major surgery or trauma; or even weight loss. Dr. Fischer said prolonged bed rest often precedes the condition” (source).
How my POTS journey began:
Over Thanksgiving break in 2003 I got a cold, which turned into a sinus infection. This was a particularly nasty sinus infection, and it took three months of lots of different medications before I got over it. Unfortunately, that was enough to get POTS. By the end of January I was feeling really sick, and by the beginning of February I felt a stabbing pain (like someone was jabbing a knife into my stomach) each time I ate, and I had a really bad migraine. I immediately found a neurologist who was able to find a good mix of medications to help deal with the migraine so I could function again. However, even on days I didn’t have a migraine, I still had a headache (chronic daily headache). (And, in case you’re interested, that headache hasn’t gone away. Every single day for the last 9 years I have a had a headache or migraine in some varying level of intensity). While the neurologist was helpful in dealing with the migraine part of pots, it didn’t go any further than that. I spent the rest of my semester going to school 3 or 4 days a week, feeling really sick and pretty miserable. This continued throughout the summer, and by the fall I finally went to the doctor for the stomach pains that never stopped. In October of 2004 I was diagnosed with POTS through a tilt table test…
(to be continued…)
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and this post should not be taken as expert medical advice. I’m simply someone who has lived many years with POTS who has found resources around the internet that help to explain this syndrome. Please contact a doctor if you have questions about POTS or think you might have it.