A quick search of the Internet will tell you that fatigue is a common symptom of almost every disease, disorder, and syndrome.
There are other symptoms that tend to be ubiquitous as well, such as fever, aches, pains, nausea, and anxiety—some of which are simply side-effects of the body fighting back against a foreign agent.
However, for people with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), the symptoms don’t distinguish the condition in any significant way.
Katie Luckraft experienced fatigue so extreme that she was nearly incapacitated by it. Whenever she stood up or moved quickly, her blood pressure would fluctuate wildly. Her heart would start racing. She fainted when her blood pressure sank to dangerously low levels.
Because she was only 12 when she started experiencing these symptoms, her doctor blamed the hormones brought on by puberty. Unsatisfied, Katie and her mother sought a second opinion, and then a third.
More than one of these doctors suggested that Katie needed an appointment with a psychiatrist.
Eventually, Katie’s mom made an appointment with a cardiologist, who was able to diagnose her with POTS.
POTS occurs more frequently in women; nearly twice as many women are diagnosed as men. Unfortunately, diseases and disorders that affect women more are commonly dismissed, associated with premenstrual issues or menopause. Disturbingly, women who complain of unidentifiable symptoms are sometimes referred to mental health professionals.
POTS was not identified as a distinct condition until 1993.
Therefore, many doctors are still unfamiliar with the condition or how to properly diagnose it. If more doctors become aware, the likelihood of proper diagnoses will improve. Autism diagnosis rates are a prime example of how this has worked in the past.
Hopefully, Katie’s story will add to the wealth of information already out there.