As you know from our past articles, chronic fatigue syndrome is characterized by it’s typical symptoms of extreme tiredness and exhaustion, low energy levels, mood swings, memory problems, and unexplained muscle pain. CFS has always been difficult to diagnose however, due to the fact that there isn’t any specific test for the patient to take that can prove a positive or negative outcome. Just to confuse everything, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome or POTS, has symptoms that are incredibly similar to CFS and is also very difficult to diagnose. Recent studies have even shown that almost a third of patients with CFS may actually be suffering from POTS! Here’s the scoop on these syndromes, their similarities, and how to differentiate between the two.
Do I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or POTS? What Is POTS?
Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome is a type of orthostatic intolerance in which the patients autonomic nervous system isn’t working properly. Individuals who have POTS cannot stand for long periods of time, often in the morning, and become symptomatic whenever they try to push themselves to do so. Symptoms include fainting, exercise intolerance, brain fog and poor concentration, extreme fatigue, headaches, lightheadedness, nausea, chest pain, unrestful sleep, and even shortness of breath. Those who suffer from POTS typically have low blood volume and their heart rate increases between 30-120 beats per minute upon standing.
POTS Versus CFS
Now that we have a better idea of what POTS is, let’s compare it to chronic fatigue. CFS presents symptoms scarily similar to that of POTS, including extreme exhaustion and sickness, difficulties sleeping, persistent muscle or joint pain, headaches and lightheadedness, difficulty maintaining an upright position, and fainting. You can now see why differentiating between the two is so difficult! Though there are no tests for CFS, there are a few ways to test and see if you have POTS. Both the Tilt Table Test and Thermoregulatory Sweat Test can be used to determine whether you are suffering from POTS or CFS. That’s why it’s always helpful to get a second opinion whenever you are given a medical diagnosis such as CFS or POTS.
Though these two conditions have similar symptoms, the way they are approached in terms of treatment is very different, which makes it crucial to get the correct diagnosis! With POTS, lifestyle and diet changes, as well as specific vitamin and mineral protocols can help fix the patient’s body imbalance. For CFS, a different type of protocol is required to ease symptoms and improve the quality of life for the patient.