Eating Disorders and POTS: A Correlation

Woman standing on a scale, captions reads

Eating Disorders and POTS: A Correlation

Woman standing on a scale, captions reads "Eating Disorders and POTS: A Correlation" | NormaLyte ORS Oral Rehydration Salts Electrolytes

In the world of dysautonomia, you may know that there are comorbidities that can exist for varying disease states.  For instance, if you have POTS there’s a large chance you also have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, or EDS.  According to this study published in 2020, approximately 31%  of POTS patients also met the criteria for hEDS while an additional 24% met the criteria for generalized joint hypermobility.

EDS is a group of inherited connective disorders that affect your skin, joints, and more.  POTS, or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, is a blood circulation problem that causes a myriad of symptoms including rapid heart rate.  More on this relationship in a later blog.

There’s a correlation between these two diseases.  Many conditions often go together, called comorbidities, and are not well understood.  POTS, while not exactly “new” is still under researched and in general not very well understood in the medical community.  

Eating Disorders and POTS

Let’s talk about the correlation between eating disorders and POTS as this topic has recently been making waves in the POTS community.  

Eating disorders are classified as a group of serious mental and physical illnesses that can affect any living person.  No one knows for sure what causes these disorders, but according to NEDA, the National Eating Disorder Association, it is suspected that biology, society, and psychological factors are at play.  Now that we have defined what eating disorders are, let’s talk about how it relates to POTS.

A study was published in May 2021 discusses the connection between eating disorders and POTS.  In that study, it was found that nearly three quarters of participants were found to engage in restricted eating and more than half of them reported weight loss.  Not surprisingly, many also talked about gluten intolerances and chronic allergies that may have been Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (another comorbidity of POTS).  With a myriad of issues affecting the average POTS patient, it’s no surprise that there is restrictive eating.

Correlation Does Not Mean Causation

The previously mentioned published study was an interesting look at the world of eating disorders and how it can affect patients with POTS.  Most POTS patients meet the typical demographic affected by eating disorders; females in their teens or young adults.  One of the first things that patients with POTS come to understand is that their diet needs to be monitored and certain changes need to happen to manage their symptoms.  

It’s important to know that just because there’s a correlation between POTS and eating disorders, it does not mean that POTS has caused (or will cause) an eating disorder in you. Currently, there is little research into the relationship between the two conditions.  In general, we know that people with all disabilities have stressors that can lead to the development of eating disorders.  With less data on the subject, it’s almost impossible to narrow down the cause.

What Can I Do?

Knowledge is power.  Keep an eye on what you’re eating, ensuring that you’re getting proper nutrition along with keeping your sodium intake up.  If you suspect you may have an eating disorder, talk to your doctor or psychologist.