This past weekend I had the worst POTS flare up that I’ve had in ages. Most of the time if my POTS is crashing I have a few bad hours or a rough day, but usually I’m able to pull myself out to a less sever level. For some reason, nothing I did was seemed to help my POTS and I’m still not quite sure what exactly caused the crash – which is equally frustrating all on its own.
My Instagram stories from over the weekend when the crash hit
What I do know, however, is what to do when my autonomic system goes a bit haywire. In the beginning it use to be quite scary because I didn’t have a protocol in place and panic accompanying a POTS attack is a recipe for disaster. Even though a crash sends your fight or flight response into overdrive you can’t help but feel a little anxiety and having a plan of what to do helps make me feel more reassured/comfortable.
Here is what I do during a POTS crash:
1. Salt salt salt. I was literally laying in bed with my little bottle of salt next to me, sprinkling it into everything I could – even eating it straight. It’s not the most pleasant thing in the world, but salt HELPS!
2. Get compression pants on. Compression pants will help keep the blood from pooling in your legs. POTS patients are not great at circulating their blood, so that is why we get really light headed or faint when we stand. Compression pants help push the blood up back toward your heart.
3. Try and elevate your legs by sticking some pillows underneath them to encourage the blood to flow back up to the top half of your body. I’ve even had a doctor recommend getting the bottom of my bed frame built up so I could sleep with my legs slightly raised, but I didn’t love the constant feeling. Instead, I only raise my legs when I’m having a particularly difficult time.
4. Rest. When POTS is in a flare, DO NOT try and power through. No matter how much your mind wants you to carry on, your body will physically stop you and you’ll be a lot worse for the wear. Listen to your body, rest, and let yourself rebalance.
5. Electrolytes. Ultima is our favorite — it’s the one I keep on hand and drink day to day to keep my levels up. This weekend I tried Normalyfe for the first time because I wanted something stronger since I was experiencing such a crash. It was great for an extra boost, but it’s not one I would reach for to sip on day to day. It’s great for “bad” days and I would advice keeping something strong like that in your cabinet in case you need it.
6. No hot baths, hot tubs, hot showers or anything with too much heat. Heat will further exasperate your heart rate and make your POTS worse as a result. I love a bath more than anything, but on my bad days I know I’m going to get out of the tub feeling worse and more dizzy than I was going in. Aim for a quick lukewarm shower or bath (or if theres a way for you to sit in the shower, even better).