Although many people recover quickly from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, others who recover may continue to experience symptoms for months. Researchers are still determining the cause of these extended symptoms, but some COVID-19 “long-haulers” may actually be dealing with a known condition, called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. This condition, also called POTS, affects involuntary nervous system functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure, usually upon standing from a reclining position.
What is post-COVID POTS?
POTS can be triggered by a variety of conditions, including viral or bacterial infections. Some researchers believe that coronavirus can be a trigger for POTS, as an increased number of people who recovered from COVID-19 are now experiencing POTS-like symptoms, such as brain fog, tachycardia (increased heart rate) and severe chronic fatigue. This similarity in symptoms led doctors to start testing patients for POTS.
The autonomic nervous system regulates functions we don’t consciously control, such as heart rate, blood pressure, sweating and body temperature. Malfunction in any of these areas can produce symptoms that can be shared by numerous conditions. Doctors who are not familiar with POTS may dismiss these symptoms as lingering effects of COVID-19 — or even psychological symptoms. At the same time, POTS can be very debilitating and requires specific treatment, so an accurate diagnosis is vital.
Are people with more severe cases of COVID-19 more likely to develop POTS?
The research in this area is still ongoing. So far, there have been reports of people with mild COVID-19 symptoms developing POTS as well.
I’m having some lingering COVID-19 symptoms. How do I know if it’s POTS?
You should talk to your doctor if you have had COVID-19 and are experiencing ongoing symptoms, including:
- Severe fatigue
- Brain fog
- Memory problems
- Spiking pulse rate with minimal or mild physical activity
- Chronic nausea and vomiting