Hula Hoops and other salty snacks could help ease symptoms of long Covid after doctors linked the condition to a little-known syndrome.
A patient has said her doctor told her to eat more crisps to drive up her blood pressure as catching coronavirus may have triggered postural tachycardia syndrome, or PoTS.
Some doctors increasingly think PoTS and long Covid are linked as the symptoms are similar – heart palpitations, dizzy spells and fainting.
There are calls for more long Covid patients to be routinely tested for the syndrome so they can be given more effective treatments.
But clinics are not still routinely on the look-out for the condition as there is little awareness about PoTS among doctors in the UK, according to one expert.
Sian Griffiths, 43, from Anglesey, caught Covid in May last year and was still struggling with symptoms months later.
The physiotherapist, who previously enjoyed an active lifestyle, told the Mail on Sunday she was left unable to make the five-minute walk to her parents’ house without sitting on the kerb to catch her breath.
She heard about PoTS online and recognised the symptoms, including a racing heart-rate and disorientation when completing simple tasks like waking up or walking up stairs.
After numerous tests, doctors confirmed she had the syndrome and she has since been able to get treatments which have seen her condition improve.
‘I was started on tablets and I’ve been swimming, which I find I can do without getting light-headed,’ said Sian. ‘Although I still find walking very far difficult, I’ve been able to go out on an electric bike.
‘Before I go to bed, I mix a teaspoon of salt into fruit juice, which I keep by the bed and have when I wake up. I then sit up in bed, and let myself adjust.
‘My specialist recommended I start adding salt to my food and eating Hula Hoops and salted nuts, to push my blood pressure up.
‘I feel I’m improving. My heart doesn’t race now, although I still suffer brain fog.
‘I had to stop working last year, as I’ve felt too unwell to look after patients, but I’m determined to get back out into the hills, do things I enjoy, and get my life back.’
Prior to the pandemic, around 130,000 people in the UK were affected by PoTS but it is feared that Covid has sparked many more cases.
Dr Lesley Kavi, a former GP who now heads the charity PoTS UK, said: ‘We think the pandemic may have caused an explosion in cases – there are specialist services for PoTS in the NHS, and they are reporting that many of their new referrals are patients who first started having problems after catching Covid.’
It was already known that a virus could trigger the nerve problems that cause the syndrome so a link to Covid would not come as a huge surprise to experts.
Dr Kavi recommended that, because patients are still not being tested en masse at surgeries, people should perform a simple at-home test to check if they may have PoTS.
Patients should lie down for a few minutes before standing up and recording their heart rate, blood pressure and any other symptoms for ten minutes.
If the heart rate goes up by more than 30 beats per minute in adults for a sustained period, then a diagnosis of PoTS might be considered.
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