One Third of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Patients ‘Wrongly Diagnosed’: May Suffer from POTS

Many Ehlers-Danlos patients also struggle with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS).

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“A third of the people who believe they have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or ME, may be suffering from a treatable illness, a professor claims.

There is currently no medication for ME, which is characterised by fatigue, muscle aches and memory loss.

However, Prof Julia Newton, of the Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University, believes that doctors often wrongly diagnose ME when people are suffering from Postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS).

PoTS is a disorder of the nervous system that disrupts the body’s automatic functions, such as breathing.

Symptoms include dizziness, rapid heartbeat, fainting, nausea, excessive tiredness and trembling. Young women are most likely to be affected by the ailment, which afflicts about 110,000 people in Britain.

It can be treated with beta-blockers and lifestyle changes. However, few doctors have ever heard of it.

Prof Newton says about 80,000 of the 250,000 ME suffers may have the condition. “I would think that around one third of people with chronic fatigue syndrome, if they were properly tested, would have PoTS,” she said.

“PoTS is an abnormal response of the nervous system, but it is a spectrum, so some people will feel dizzy on standing, while others will actually black out. It affects the part of the nervous system which is outside our control.”

Although doctors are unclear as to what causes the problem, Prof Newton believes it may be caused by a viral infection or hormonal changes.

Prof Newton’s team studied 84 members of the national charity and support group PoTS UK and a further 52 patients who had been diagnosed at an NHS falls clinic in Newcastle between 2009 and 2012.

The participants completed questionnaires to gauge levels of fatigue; anxiety and depression; ability to carry out tasks; and mental power.

It was found that people with PoTS were predominantly young, well-educated and female.

Prof Newton said: “Our experience suggests that some patients never recover.”

The findings were reported in the online journal BMJ Open today.”

Doctors need more education to diagnose Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS).

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