Living with a debilitating disease like Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) can significantly disrupt daily living, limiting a person’s independence. POTS is a chronic condition that affects the autonomic nervous system, which controls heart rate and blood pressure. The symptoms make it increasingly challenging to retain independence.
What Is POTS Disease?
POTS is a form of dysautonomia — a disorder of the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary actions like breathing and heartbeat. According to Dysautonomia International, it’s estimated that POTS impacts between one to three million Americans. It's also an autoimmune disease, which means the immune system attacks healthy parts of the body, like the heart or nerves.
Although POTS can affect anyone, it’s more common in girls and women 15 to 50. Most people diagnosed with POTS are Caucasian females between 15 and 25.
Symptoms of POTS Disease
People with POTS can experience dizziness, fatigue, nausea, fainting spells, lightheadedness, and brain fog (the inability to concentrate). These symptoms create limitations in movement and cognitive function, making it challenging for individuals with this condition to perform daily tasks like driving or cooking meals due to decreased stamina or impaired motor skills.
Other symptoms can include
- Blurred vision
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Sleep issues
- Memory impairment
Service Dogs Make It Possible To Live More Fully
For people with POTS, the simple tasks of daily life can be overwhelming. Service Dogs make it possible for them to get to work, go grocery shopping, and make other necessary trips on their own. The benefits of having a Service Dog are physical and emotional.
Service Dogs Can Help People Living With POTS in Various Ways
Service Dogs can help people with POTS disease by providing stability and balance when blood pressure drops too low. The animal's sense of touch and smell can also alert them of an impending episode, allowing them to take action before it becomes an issue. If fainting occurs, Service Dogs can alert those nearby for help.
Feelings of dizziness or disorientation are common symptoms of POTS. Having a Service Dog by one’s side can help an individual regain balance, feel more stable, and be less likely to fall.
- Help With Spatial Assurance
People with POTS can also experience sudden changes in their peripheral vision. Impaired peripheral vision may cause them to sense movement or have blurred vision, affecting their spatial surroundings. The situation can lead to disorienting episodes and create anxiety. A Service Dog is a constant presence guarding against feeling disoriented or anxious.
- Retrieving Items
Even simple tasks, like bending down to pick up an item, can cause a person with POTS to have a dizzy spell. A Service Dog can pick up any dropped items, making a person feel safe.
- Supporting Mental Health
The unconditional love of a Service Dog can tremendously help mental health conditions, like depression and anxiety, which many people with POTS experience. A Service Dog ensures they always have a friend by their side.
- Promoting Communication
Like other disabilities, POTS patients often suffer from isolation. Being out and about with a Service Dog can initiate conversations with others. Having a four-legged companion can make it easier for people to approach.
Obtaining a Service Dog
Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities (ECAD) breeds Service Dogs and begins their training when they’re puppies. By the time they’re nine months, they know several commands. They then undergo extensive training for 18 to 24 months before they are matched with someone.
Once a potential match has been identified, each person's final training is individualized. When a client arrives for team training, the dog has had up to 1,500 hours of training and socialization.
Help Us Change the Lives of People Living With POTS (and Other Disabilities)
As well as being a trusted friend; a Service Dog can expand its partner’s motor abilities, granting them new independence and allowing them to get more out of life. Having a Service Dog by your side means you have more autonomy, can accomplish tasks that may otherwise be impossible, and enjoy a better quality of life. If you or a loved one has POTS, contact Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities to learn more or apply for a Service Dog.
Everyone can take part in helping people with disabilities with Service Dogs. Support us with a donation, bequest, planned giving, contribute to our wish list, or create a fundraiser. Your support can change someone’s life.