Health

28-year-old woman ‘allergic to GRAVITY’


Lyndsi Johnson, 28, describes the condition that causes her to faint several times a day as being 'allergic to gravity'

Lyndsi Johnson, 28, describes the condition that causes her to faint several times a day as being 'allergic to gravity'

Lyndsi Johnson, 28, describes the condition that causes her to faint several times a day as being ‘allergic to gravity’

A previously ‘super-active’ 28-year-old man is now bedridden and suffering from physical weakness fainting after being ‘allergic to gravity’.

Lyndsi Johnson, of Bangor, Maine, USA, cannot get up for more than three minutes without fainting and has to rely on her husband for basic tasks.

The former Navy mechanic – who was discharged in 2018 – now spends 23 hours in bed a day, waking up only briefly to shower, which she has to sit down.

On a bad day, Mrs Johnson could pass out up to 10 times a day.

After years of rolling among doctors looking for answers, Mrs Johnson was finally diagnosed with orthostatic tachycardia syndrome earlier this year.

PoTS is an irregular and rapid increase in heart rate caused by standing or sitting up and can cause dizziness or fainting.

The condition is difficult to diagnose but one in every 100 Britons and Americans lives with some form of the condition.

When we stand up, gravity naturally pulls some of our blood down to our stomach, arms and legs. Normally, the body’s automatic response compensates for this change with a slight increase in heart rate to maintain normal blood flow.

But for people with PoTS, this response doesn’t trigger correctly, and their heart rate increases rapidly in response to the sudden change in blood pressure, leading to nausea, dizziness, and even fainting.

When her symptoms worsened with frequent episodes of fainting and vomiting, she was forced to leave her role as an aviation diesel mechanic.

When her symptoms worsened with frequent episodes of fainting and vomiting, she was forced to leave her role as an aviation diesel mechanic.

When her symptoms worsened with frequent episodes of fainting and vomiting, she was forced to leave her role as an aviation diesel mechanic.

Miss Johnson, pictured here before developing her mysterious condition, describes herself as 'super active

Miss Johnson, pictured here before developing her mysterious condition, describes herself as 'super active

Miss Johnson, pictured here before developing her mysterious condition, describes herself as ‘super active

While it’s not technically an allergy, an overreaction to a substance by the body’s immune system, some people living with PoTS, like Ms Johnson, consider it one.

“I’m allergic to gravity – it sounds crazy but it’s true,” she says.

‘I can’t get up for more than three minutes without feeling faint, sick or unconscious.

‘I stay in bed all day – until 23 hours a day.’

Mrs. Johnson started experiencing stomach and back pain in October 2015 while she was serving overseas.

She was medically discharged from the US Navy in May 2018 after her symptoms worsened and doctors were unable to find the source of her condition.

Later that year, the pain worsened, and she began vomiting frequently.

“It was terrible when I screamed in pain,” she said.

However, medics were unable to provide her with any closer answers, at one point attributing her symptoms to anxiety attacks.

She said her condition then got even worse after she lost consciousness in a hospital elevator in October 2020.

‘It was really scary. From there, my fainting got worse,” she said.

‘I was fainting everywhere – I was going to do some supermarket shopping and I had to sit down because I felt faint or was in the gym.

‘I even fainted after my dog ​​barked.’

It took her seven years before doctors told her she had orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (PoTS), an abnormal reaction in which the heart overcompensates for the normal fluctuations in blood pressure that occur when every standing person.  It made her heart beat abnormally fast, potentially knocking her out

It took her seven years before doctors told her she had orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (PoTS), an abnormal reaction in which the heart overcompensates for the normal fluctuations in blood pressure that occur when every standing person.  It made her heart beat abnormally fast, potentially knocking her out

It took her seven years before doctors told her she had orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (PoTS), an abnormal reaction in which the heart overcompensates for the normal fluctuations in blood pressure that occur when every standing person. It made her heart beat abnormally fast, potentially knocking her out

Ms Johnson, pictured here is a rock climber, was previously very active and loved going to the gym.  Now she is almost completely dependent on her husband to help her with cooking and bathing

Ms Johnson, pictured here is a rock climber, was previously very active and loved going to the gym.  Now she is almost completely dependent on her husband to help her with cooking and bathing

Ms Johnson, pictured here is a rock climber, was previously very active and loved going to the gym. Now she is almost completely dependent on her husband to help her with cooking and bathing

What is orthostatic tachycardia syndrome?

Postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS) is a type of blood metabolic disorder, a malfunction of the body’s autonomic nervous system.

This system includes a range of subconscious bodily functions that can happen without thinking about them directly, such as your heart rate, breathing, digestion, and sexual arousal.

PoTS is an abnormal response to standing or sitting up.

When we stand up, gravity will naturally pull some blood down to the abdomen, arms and legs.

Normally, the body automatically compensates for this change with a slight increase in heart rate to maintain normal blood flow.

In PoTS, this does not happen and the body overreacts to the sudden rapid increase in heart rate to maintain normal function.

This can lead to dizziness, nausea and even fainting.

What causes PoTS?

The exact cause is not determined but cases sometimes develop when people reach their teens or go through another major body change such as injury/illness or pregnancy.

Some other known causes include diabetes, cancer, alcohol or metal poisoning, or having faulty genes that cause hormone imbalances.

Who is most at risk?

Most cases are diagnosed between girls and women aged 15 to 50 years.

How popular is it?

Estimates vary. In the UK, around 1 in 500 people are thought to have the condition. In the United States, the total is estimated to be between 1 and 3 million.

How is it diagnosed?

A variety of tests such as heart scans and blood tests are ordered to rule out certain other underlying conditions.

One of the tests to diagnose PoTS is the tilt table test.

This test involves lying down on a specially designed table that is tilted gradually until the person is in an upright position while doctors measure their heart rate.

PoTS is diagnosed if the heart rate rises 30 beats per minute above the person’s normal resting level for more than 30 seconds along with symptoms such as dizziness or fainting.

Is their cure?

No. Although the condition sometimes goes away on its own, it is more common in adolescents.

For cases that do not improve, a range of medications and lifestyle changes that alter blood pressure are prescribed to help people live with the symptoms.

Finally, in February of this year, a doctor recommended that she perform a PoTS-specific tilt test.

This test involves lying down on a specially designed table that is tilted gradually until the person is in an upright position while doctors measure their heart rate.

PoTS is diagnosed when the heart rate rises 30 beats per minute above the person’s normal resting level for more than 30 seconds along with symptoms such as dizziness or fainting.

Now, she is completely dependent on her husband James to take care of her.

“I never thought at the age of 28 that I would have to use a shower chair,” she says.

‘I can’t leave my house anymore. There is no cure but I am very grateful to James and what I have. ‘

Despite her struggles, Mrs Johnson said she was grateful to finally have some answers.

“I’m so grateful that I finally know how I can get treatment,” she said.

She is currently taking betablockers, a medication that lowers the heart rate, which helps reduce fainting episodes 10 to three times a day and relieves nausea.

However, Ms Johnson said even this improvement was taking a toll on her life and mental health.

“I really still can’t do anything,” she said.

‘It was really debilitating – I couldn’t do the housework and James had to cook, clean and help me shower.

‘I went weeks without brushing my teeth because it just made me feel terrible.’

Despite the difficulties, Ms. Johnson, who is currently studying the music business, said she hopes to move from apartment to house so she can spend more time outside.

“If I lie down I feel fine but as soon as I stand up I get dizzy and faint,” she said.

‘The rug was ripped from under my feet – I was so active I had to lie down all day.

‘I can’t do a lot of things that I used to be able to do but now I have accepted it.’

PoTS is difficult to diagnose due to the many symptoms that can be caused by other conditions and the fact that not all patients have it.

These symptoms include fainting, ‘brain fog’, headaches, not sleeping well, nausea and chest pain.

Some studies estimate one in 500 Britons has some form of PoTS and others calculate that up to one in 100 Americans has it.

What causes PoTS is unknown, but it can develop in people during their teens, or after a serious illness, injury, or pregnancy.

Other causes include conditions like cancer, diabetes, alcohol or metal poisoning, or a faulty gene that produces too much of the ‘fight or flight’ hormone.

Although anyone can develop PoTS, it is mainly diagnosed in girls and women aged 15 to 50 years.

There is no cure for PoTS although the condition can be managed with lifestyle changes that affect blood pressure such as avoiding caffeine and alcohol and through medication.

Sometimes the condition goes away on its own, which in most cases develops in adolescents.

Source: | This article originally belonged to Dailymail.co.uk



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