8 Shower Tips When You Have POTS
For some people, a hot shower relieves stress and washes away the day. It’s something you might look forward to. But, when you have a chronic illness like POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome), a hot shower is something to be dreaded. Avoided, even.
Why is Showering With POTS So Hard?
POTS is a chronic illness that affects the way blood pools in your body causing a myriad of symptoms. One of the worst symptoms of POTS is syncope (or fainting) episodes that happen when blood pools in your lower extremities. Fainting in the bathroom is something to be avoided, but is something people with POTS rightfully worry over.
Exposure to warm water for a prolonged period of time during a shower or a bath will temporarily open up and widen blood vessels. POTS patients will experience this as dizzy spells and may experience more blood pooling in their extremities and ultimately a tachy heart rate. Hot showers can also soften skin and relax muscles which can potentially further increase blood pooling without the natural compression and constriction that regulates blood flow.
Showering with POTS is harder because it can send a person’s symptoms into overdrive making that person feel worse rather than better after showering.
Tips for Showering With POTS
It’s possible to shower when you have POTS. You just may need to adjust the way you do it. Here’s some tips on how to shower when you have POTS
- Lukewarm or cold showers. Steaming hot showers can really set off the symptoms of POTS. The biggest way to offset that is to cool down your shower or bath. If you can shower in cold water, we recommend that. The cooler the water the better for someone with POTS. Bonus: cold showers have been proven to lower cortisol levels.
- Shower stools. It’s not just for the elderly. Stools in the shower should be less taboo. It’s an aid that will save you, albeit not a sexy aid. Sit instead of standing when you shower. This will reduce the amount of times you bend your head down and it will physically reduce the strain of gravity on your arms as you clean.
- Hydrate before showering. Using a medical grade electrolyte like NormaLyte before you take a shower can help keep your blood pressure up and it will lessen the symptoms you feel after showering. It’s important that your electrolyte is medical grade as not all electrolytes are created equal (don’t be fooled by sports drinks).
- Turn the water off. The water doesn’t have to run the entire time you’re in the shower. Turning off the water in between washing body parts can save you from exposure to heat. Especially if it’s harder for you to use cold water.
- Multi-task. Some people with chronic illness stress the importance of doing as much as you can in a short period of time. Some people brush their teeth in the shower too!
- Shower in the evening. This is maybe one of my favorite tips! Shower before bed. Get in, use some of the tips we shared above, and go straight to your bed to recuperate from the strain showering had on you.
- Rest after showering. If showering in the evening isn’t a good option for you then consider budgeting time to rest after a shower. Some people have a cozy robe and lay their bath towel down on their bed so that they can go straight from the shower to the bed. Make sure you budget some time for rest after you take a shower to give your heart time to calm down from the strain.
- Skip the shower. As long as your hygiene is cared for, you can skip the daily shower. Use a hand towel (or disposable body wipes) to wipe down your body, apply some fresh deodorant, and consider using a good dry shampoo between showering. Use your shower stool to do all this as needed through the week. Doing this can help you avoid showering for a week or more.
Overall, living with a chronic illness like POTS or other forms of dysautonomia doesn’t mean the end of everything you love. With some easy modifications for how you do things you will find it easier on your body. It’s possible to shower safely. Just know the limits and boundaries your body has set.
What modifications have you made to make showering or bathing with POTS easier for you? Let us know in the comments below.