3 Things you Need to Know About POTS Literacy

There’s no denying I admire the photography and book communities and am literate in each of them with a desire to learn more each day. However, I’ve always tried to be transparent with my health journey and I feel like sharing the literacy within the POTS community can create inclusivity and awareness. The POTS literacy community exists in many ways; especially online via Facebook groups in order to provide support for parents and those with the condition itself. Although, sharing my love for photography and books/publishing would offer recreational insight of sorts; sharing my health journey with you all is pertinent as well, especially since there has been a rise in this condition from the aftermath of COVID. There has been a surge of people with “long haul symptoms” that are strikingly similar to POTS. 

POTS literacy is essential in teaching people with the chronic illness to maintain a good quality of life and educating those who haven’t heard of the condition to bring awareness.  There are many avenues that someone with POTS can experience for treatment and I’ll be sharing with you the literacy I have personally learned, since I have this condition myself. (It’s important to note: All POTS patients are not alike and each differ on a case by case basis on symptoms and causes for developing POTS.) POTS stands for Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome which is an autonomic nervous system dysfunction. Our nervous system is set to run automatically, hence the name, but with POTS the nervous system is dysregulated: functioning sporadically. Some of the symptoms can include high and fast heart rate upon standing due to poor blood circulation, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), headaches, blood pooling, fatigue, low mental vitality, and heat intolerance. 

Why is it important for those with this condition to be literate on it? Because when you have POTS it turns your lifestyle upside down. Your body starts demanding change and rigid routines in order to maintain even a dose of proper functioning, Why must people without this condition be aware of it? Competency in this condition benefits those with the chronic illness and others to further research, pave a way for compassion and learning how to withstand the trials you may face with POTS. 

Scholars and Doctors are still uncertain with many information related to POTS. This is due to there being many reasons why I person may develop POTS. In my case, I suspect that a combination of suppressing my emotions for a long period of time and hitting my head in a scooter accident triggered my body to malfunction. Many have speculated that it was caused by the fact I was born with congenital heart diseases but I didn’t develop POTS until the age of 18. Before, I was a relatively normal kid for at least a good duration of years. 

Firstly, a crucial literacy practice is medication competency. Beta Blockers are a very common drug class of medications used to treat primarily the tachycardia in patients. Beta Blockers are used to offer a better quality of life to POTS patients in order to be able to walk around normally without their heart beat per minute being extraordinarily at a high speed. Metoprolol, Propranolol, and Atenolol are a few names of beta blockers given. Being literate about what medications interact with your specific brain chemistry can offer great support. Why? Because every medication may treat one symptom but it comes at a price: a side effect. Metoprolol for example can interact with those more vulnerable to mental illnesses leading to an increased risk in severe depression, OCD, and fatigue. This is because beta blockers are adrenaline blocking agents. This can create a host of chaos for those predisposed or with pre-existing mental conditions. It’s noteworthy to mention, not all experience this mental side effect but it is in fact possible. There seems to be a lack of education with the mental affects beta blockers have on the human body which is why it’s key for those with chronic illness to share their experiences. There are many who praise metoprolol for its usage and there are others who experience severe mental side effects. I was the later of the two groups. 

Another practice is blood pressure monitorization –– learning to read a blood pressure monitor becomes like second nature when you have a chronic illness. Why? Our bodies can alert us very loudly internally when something is amiss. Low blood pressure? Cue the dizzy spells, vertigo, fatigue, and sometimes low blood sugar. High blood pressure? Cue the pain in the back of the head, burning sensations, hot flashes, tightness in chest, and tightness in veins sensation. Being able to read a blood pressure monitor accurately can allow you to determine what your body needs at the given time. 

Finally, a common holistic practice by POTSie’s is the intake of salt in order to boost up blood pressure if your tachycardia is primarily rooted from low blood pressure. Saltstick Vitassium is an excellent supplement provided for people with POTS to provide all the necessary electrolytes and salts needed for a days use. When I was using it my tachycardia disappeared! (Without the nasty mental side effects like beta blockers). Learning to be mindful of what your body is trying to speak to you is essential with dealing with a chronic illness. Not all people are a good candidate for salt pill supplements but if you’re one of the lucky few I’d consult your health care physician to figure that out!

It’s necessary to mention, my literacy expressions are not meant to replace medical treatment. Since everybody’s medical health is individualistic – I can only share my gained wisdom and health journey in order to further the collective wisdom.

Arty Feliz
Arty Feliz

Arty Feliz is a portrait photographer and writer based in the Inland Empire, CA. Arthur reviews pop culture topics such as books, films, and cosmetics while also being an advocate sharing his experience with Congenital Heart Disease and other chronic illnesses. He's also the Editor in Chief of the indie print publication Fairest Magazine distributed by Magcloud.

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