Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)

Help for kids with autonomic disorders

Children with conditions such as POTS should be seen by experienced experts. At UW Health and American Family Children's Hospital, we have a special clinic for children and teens with this condition that causes dizziness or lightheadedness.
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Overview

Expert care to help you enjoy life and live safely

Frequent dizziness or lightheadedness that affects a child’s daily activities may be a sign of POTS.

POTS is a condition where too little blood reaches the brain when moving from a lying to a standing position. It’s a form of dysautonomia. This term refers to disorders that affect the part of the nervous system in charge of involuntary actions like blood pressure and heart rate control. These are actions that we don’t consciously control.

UW Health offers a special clinic for kids 18 years of age and younger with autonomic disorders like POTS. We can evaluate your child’s symptoms. Based on our findings, we make sure they get the expert care they need to control those symptoms, enjoy life and live safely.

Symptoms and diagnosis

Putting the pieces together to make a diagnosis

We’ve treated hundreds of children with POTS and the symptoms associated with it. Our experience helps us diagnose children quickly and get them the help they need.

Symptoms

Many kids experience POTS symptoms when they stand up from a lying position. These symptoms can include:

  • Blurred vision

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

  • Fainting

  • Fast, pounding heartbeat

Other symptoms children with dysautonomia may have include:

  • Abnormal sweating (too much or too little)

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation or feeling full quickly

  • Headaches

  • Inability to exercise like they once could

  • Purple and splotchy arms and legs

  • Sensitivity to heat or cold

  • Trouble concentrating

Diagnosis

To evaluate symptoms, we do an exam and ask about your child’s medical history. If needed, we may do tests such as:

Measures your child’s heart rate and blood pressure when they move from lying down to standing up

Uses sound waves to create moving pictures of your child’s heart

Looks at the electrical activity of your child’s heart

Evaluates how your child’s heart responds to exercise while they walk on a treadmill

Allows us to record your child’s heart activity while they are at home

Evaluates your child’s blood and urine to look for medical conditions

Treatment and research

Treatment helps your child have a childhood

POTS can make the daily activities most kids take for granted very difficult. At UW Health, treatment focuses on improving symptoms so kids can be kids.

We look at each child to determine how best to help them. If needed, we can bring in additional specialists to address specific concerns. We work hard to try and have you meet with all the providers your child needs in one visit to our clinic.

Most patients will follow a general treatment plan.

It focuses on:

  • Drinking a lot of fluids

  • Adding extra salt to the diet

  • Getting regular exercise

  • Wearing compression stockings

 Sometimes we prescribe medicines to help control symptoms as well.

Kelleigh's story

For a lot of kids, going to school is nothing to get too excited about. Kelleigh was thrilled to get back to class. For a long time, just getting out of bed each day was a chore. The POTS Clinic at UW Health changed everything.

Watch Kelleigh's story

Care team

Child-centered expertise and experience

Our team specializes in POTS and dysautonomia. Your child will get the best possible care from us.

We work with specialists including providers who focus on GI conditions, headaches and more to make sure we cover every aspect of your child’s health. Physical therapists and health psychologists may have roles in your child’s treatment as well.

Our providers

Patient support and services

Help for you to help your child

These resources and organizations can help you learn more about POTS and its symptoms and treatments.

Location

Care close to home

When you come to American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, your entire family – not just your child – receives first-class care. A Best Western PLUS InnTowner hotel, owned by UW Health, is located just blocks from the hospital. Also down the street is Madison’s Ronald McDonald House — a “home-away-from-home” for families so they can stay close to their hospitalized child at little or no cost.

Many families can see a UW Health pediatric cardiologist in a location closer to home than Madison. Aside from American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison, UW Health pediatric cardiology clinics are in seven Wisconsin communities and Rockford, Illinois.

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  • American Family Children's Hospital - Pediatric Cardiovascular Medicine
    • 1675 Highland Ave. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 263-6420
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