Living with POTS

The holiday season gives us many reasons to feel grateful and happy but for some people, personal challenges can put a damper on the festivities of the season. For those suffering from health issues, the struggle of getting through the business of the season can present bigger obstacles or, as in the case of one young girl from Tennessee, give us more reasons that ever to be thankful for the blessings that surround us.

A little more than a year ago, Shelly Duggard, a junior in high school and standout softball player at Silverdale Baptist Academy in Chattanooga, TN, was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). A few months later, the disease had progressed to the point that she could no longer play softball or even walk. In July of that year, determined to go on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic even though flying can be very difficult for those with POTS, she boarded the plane with a friend and set off on the trip. As the plane landed, she overheard many passengers complaining about the heat but what she felt was no pain in her legs. She stood up and disembarked, not needing the wheelchair that was waiting for her. A month after returning home, and still without the wheelchair, her doctor was shocked at the turnaround. Although she will not be able to play softball again, she has been able to work with her former team on pitching and catching drills and has learned to live a full and happy life while managing the effects of POTS.
Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome is a form of dystautonomia that affects between one and three million Americans. Relatively new in the medical community, it can be misunderstood by nearly everyone. Often called the “invisible disease”, it is difficult to diagnose. The hallmark symptoms of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome include Orthostasis, which is basically a sensation of dizziness upon standing, and tachycardia or fast heart rate. The definition typically used for POTS is symptoms on standing, accompanied by an increase in heart rate of 30 beats per minute within 10 minutes of standing. Although there may be a sensation of fainting, most POTS patients don’t pass out. There are many drug-free options for care today. Diet, exercise, compression devices and other factors can help improve symptoms. Care plans based in Chiropractic Neurology have led to patient success in cases where even getting a diagnosis was difficult.
Today Shelly has been accepted to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with plans to attend in the Fall semester. She remains a part of the Silverdale softball team on the sidelines and will walk across the stage with her graduating high school classmates in May of this year. Shelly has found many reasons to be thankful in extraordinary circumstances and we applaud her.
Are you or someone you love suffering from POTS? Our office has been successfully treating patients with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome for years and has vast experience working with patients to rehab their autonomic balance and restore vibrancy to their lives. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one. For a list of POTS symptoms, click here.

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