Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, also known as POTS, is a disorder that makes it difficult for the body to properly regulate blood flow. This, in turn, can lead to a variety of negative symptoms and physiological effects, including lightheadedness, difficulty having clear or coherent thoughts, blurred vision, and weakness of the extremities.
While POTS is much more common in women, men can also suffer from this condition. Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome usually appears in adults between the ages of 18 and 50, and is much less common in adolescents. In any case, you will need to consult a licensed physician to see if you or someone you love is suffering from Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome.
Symptoms of POTS
While POTS can affect people differently, there are a few symptoms that are universal. Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome is always characterized by difficulties moving from a lying or sitting position to a standing position, and vice versa. Imagine lying down and then trying to sit back up, only for your blood levels to become unbalanced, causing you to feel confused and physically disoriented.
When a sudden change in posture occurs, this disorder can cause individuals to feel dizzy, faint, shaky, or even suffer from blurred vision. If the change in position happens very quickly, it can cause a person to faint, which can be very dangerous, as this can lead to physical injuries. This is particularly bad if the fainting spell causes the person to hit their head on the ground or a foreign object.
From an outsider’s perspective, it can seem like those with POTS suffer for no apparent reason. For example, Individuals with POTS can faint or fall down just by trying to stand up. This can be extremely scary, as it can happen randomly and without warning. Having random fainting spells wouldn’t be ideal for anyone, but imagine trying to be independent and always have this worry in the back of your mind. You have the burden of knowing that you may pass out at any time, and you could be in a situation where no one is around to help you.
POTS is not widely known, but those who are affected by it often suffer on a daily basis. Thankfully, there are ways for people with POTS to alleviate some of their symptoms and have peace of mind in their daily lives. One of the best ways to help make life with POTS easier is a service animal.
What Is A Service Animal?
Service animals (typically dogs) have been trained to perform specific tasks that a person is incapable of performing on their own. For this reason, service animals are allowed in public spaces where other animals (possibly including emotional support animals) may not be allowed to go. Service animals can serve as an integral part of treatment plans for a variety of disabilities, from POTS to PTSD.
A service dog can help those suffering from POTS restore some normalcy to their lives. It also has the added benefit of providing emotional comfort and companionship to its owner. With a service dog, POTS-sufferers have the reassurance of knowing that someone is always looking out for their best interests. Additionally, they know that someone is always nearby to help them when they need it the most.
What You Need To Qualify
No matter the exact circumstances of your condition, everyone must meet the same standards in order to qualify for a service animal. First and foremost, you will need to get written approval and consent from a licensed physician. The physician must verify that you actually have POTS. This is a very important step, as POTS often goes undiagnosed. Once the physician determines that you do in fact have POTS, they will need to evaluate the severity of your condition.
Generally, service dogs are only recommended if a condition severely impacts a person’s well being. So, if your condition only causes you to have relatively mild symptoms, a service dog may not be warranted, and therefore you will not qualify to own one. For example, if you feel a little dizzy when standing up, or have mild feelings of weakness, your doctor may determine that your symptoms are not severe enough for a service dog. However, if your condition causes you to have fainting spells, shakiness, or blurred vision, then a service dog might be the best option for you.
Once you obtain qualification from a physician, you will be able to get a trained service dog to help you in your daily life. However, you will need to consider the costs of owning and caring for a service dog before proceeding. Service animals can be quite expensive, so it is important to consider if getting one is the right choice for you.
How A Service Dog Can Help With POTS
Above all else, a service dog is able to offer protection, love, and security to someone suffering from POTS. These are things so many of us overlook in our everyday lives, but are nonetheless vital to our happiness and mental well being. This is especially true for people with debilitating conditions like POTS. Often times, people with POTS may not have a network of support from friends or family members, leaving them feeling helpless or afraid to go about their daily routine alone.
Thankfully, service dogs can be trained to notice when their owner may be experiencing a fainting spell or similarly negative symptoms. The dogs can bark or use physical contact to alert you of an impending episode. This way, you can be aware of the situation and know that a fainting episode may be near. In many cases, this allows you to regain composure and potentially avoid fainting altogether. Even if you are unable to avoid fainting, your dog will be trained to alert those nearby to bring help.
Fainting is one of the more extreme symptoms, but battling feelings of dizziness or disorientation are also very common among people with POTS. A service dog can help an individual regain balance and feel stabilized when walking. If you have a dog to walk alongside you and maintain constant physical contact, you are far less likely to feel disoriented or fall down.
Many individuals with POTS suffer from sudden changes in their peripheral vision as well. It may be that you sense movement in your peripheral, or perhaps your vision becomes blurred and your peripheral vision is reduced or completely impaired. In any case, a service dog can be a vital asset when this happens. By having a constant presence to help you steady yourself and understand your spatial surroundings, you can overcome these disorienting episodes more quickly, and (hopefully) experience less anxiety in the process.
In addition to their spatial presence and awareness, service dogs can act as a second set of eyes to ensure your safety. Simple tasks can cause individuals with POTS to suffer greatly, as they feel that their guard is down when they need to change positions. Simply bending down to pick up a dropped item can cause a dizzy spell. Thankfully, a service dog can help retrieve items for you, saving you the trouble of getting them yourself, while also making you feel safe and cared for at the same time.
Individuals who suffer from any type of physical or psychological disorder have barriers that they must overcome. A lot of people tend to keep their struggles to themselves. When this happens, they try to deal with adverse symptoms without any assistance. In many cases, this can lead to depression and other negative outcomes. Rather than taking unnecessary risks, a service animal can help ensure that those suffering from POTS always have someone to count on.
Service dogs can be specially trained to help people with POTS. However, this specialization means that POTS service dogs are significantly more expensive than many other types of service dogs. It is also more difficult for someone to obtain a POTS service dog, because a doctor may not deem it a necessity. No matter the case, animals can help anyone feel loved and cared for, while also helping them feel more independent. A service dog that is trained to help with a serious condition is even more of an asset. After all, no one should have to put a price tag on their independence.
Acquiring A Service Dog For POTS
There are significant benefits to having a service dog if you suffer from POTS. If you are looking for a way to feel a bit more independent, a service dog is a major step in the right direction. Additionally, service dogs can perform vital tasks such as retrieving items, alerting others in the event of an emergency, providing physical stability, and perhaps most importantly, providing companionship and emotional support.
That said, not everyone who has been diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome will qualify for a service dog. You will first need to consult with a physician who is familiar with your condition to determine if a service dog is the right treatment option for you.
If you and your doctor agree that a service dog could benefit you and help alleviate some of the suffering caused by POTS, then you can continue the process of obtaining your service animal. That’s where we come in. The experts at usserviceanimals.org know how much a service dog can mean to someone in need, and we even offer online training for psychiatric service dogs.
Additionally, we understand the legal process that you must go through to qualify for a service animal, and we can help you every step of the way. You can learn more about qualifying for a service dog here, or if you have additional questions about how a service dog can benefit you or a loved one, feel free to contact us directly at this link.