Have you heard of PoTS?
Updated: Jun 26
What is PoTS and what is the connection to eating disorders?
Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS) is a chronic and often debilitating condition characterized by an excessive increase in heart rate when you assume an upright position.
While the exact cause of PoTS currently remains unclear, recent research has shed light on potential connections between PoTS and eating disorders.
In this article I will be providing a thorough review of the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of PoTS, as well as explore the emerging links between PoTS and eating disorders.
PoTS primarily affects the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary bodily functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion.
Individuals with PoTS experience an abnormal increase in heart rate of 30 beats per minute or more within ten minutes of assuming an upright posture, accompanied by various debilitating symptoms.
Common symptoms of PoTS include:
Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
Dizziness and lightheadedness
Fatigue and weakness
Brain fog and difficulty concentrating
Nausea and gastrointestinal disturbances
Shortness of breath
Anxiety and depression
The Link Between PoTS and Eating Disorders:
While the relationship between PoTS and eating disorders is still being explored, several studies suggest a potential connection.
Research indicates that a subset of individuals with PoTS may also present with disordered eating patterns or full-blown eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or orthorexia.
Possible explanations for the link between PoTS and eating disorders include:
Autonomic Dysfunction: Dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system in PoTS may influence appetite and digestion, leading to altered eating behaviors.
Shared Pathophysiology: Both PoTS and eating disorders involve disturbances in neurotransmitters, hormones, and immune system function, suggesting a common underlying mechanism.
Psychological Factors: Chronic illness, particularly one with significant impacts on daily functioning, can contribute to the development or exacerbation of eating disorders as a coping mechanism.
Diagnosis and Treatment:
Diagnosing PoTS involves a comprehensive evaluation of symptoms, medical history, and physical examination. Some common diagnostic tests include a tilt-table test, which measures heart rate and blood pressure changes during position changes, and autonomic function testing.
Treatment of PoTS aims to manage symptoms, improve quality of life, and address underlying causes. This typically involves a multidisciplinary approach, including:
Lifestyle Modifications: Increasing fluid and salt intake, engaging in regular exercise, and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule can help manage symptoms.
Medications: Certain medications, such as beta-blockers, fludrocortisone, and midodrine, may be prescribed to regulate heart rate and improve blood flow.
Physical Therapy: Exercises focused on postural training, muscle strengthening, and cardiovascular conditioning can aid in symptom management.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): Psychological interventions, including CBT, can help address anxiety, depression, and any comorbid eating disorders.
Nutritional Support: Collaborating with registered dietitians can ensure appropriate and balanced nutrition, which may be particularly important for individuals with co-occurring eating disorders.
Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS) is a complex condition that affects multiple bodily systems and can significantly impact someone's quality of life. Emerging research suggests a potential link between PoTS and eating disorders, highlighting the need for a comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment. Addressing both the physiological and psychological aspects of POTS and any comorbid conditions is essential for full recovery.
If you or someone you love is struggling with symptoms that may suggest PoTS or an eating disorder, it's important to reach out for help.