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POTS Pro Tips - Showering

Updated: Feb 19

While most people consider taking a shower to just be part of their daily hygiene routine, for people with POTS, it can be a major commitment. Showering can leave your heart thundering in your chest as if you are running a marathon, make you dizzy (or even risk passing out), and leave you laid up and exhausted for 30 minutes or even hours afterwards. It's no wonder that some people with POTS prefer to wait a couple of days between taking showers.

So why is showering so difficult on your body and what can you do about it? A good first step is checking out our post POTS University to help you better understand the "why". The more you know about how blood works in your body, the more you'll be able to adapt to help tell your body to send it where you need it during all kinds of activities.

For showering specifically however, we hope that this helps give you some fresh ideas to take back your showers and enjoy them again without paying for it later.

8 Pro-Tips for Showering with POTS

  1. Showering sitting down can reduce the demands on your heart to try and pump blood up against gravity to get it back to your heart and your brain. This is one way to help avoid dizziness and reduce your risk of falling. Getting a shower bench can make all the difference. If you're more mobile, you can also utilize the POTS Squat when showering.

  2. Bending over to wash your hair can make it easier for your body to get the blood you need to the muscles in your arms and hands so they can move to help you wash without stealing it from your heart and your brain. When you bend over, your heart can pump to all of these places on a horizontal playing field; it's easier than doing it against gravity. If you're standing upright, your heart has to pump blood against gravity to get it up to your brain and arms.

  3. Change the water temperature from hot to luke warm. The warmer the water, the more your body is going to send blood to the surface of your skin to dissipate heat and control your internal body temperature. More blood towards your skin means less for your brain, and heart.

  4. Change the water temperature slowly when you get out. If you decrease the temperature of the water from hot, to luke-warm, or even cold if you can tolerate it, your body has a chance to adjust. If you move from a hot shower to a cooler air outside quickly, your body can by shocked by the rapid transition. In the confusion of trying to decide where to send your blood, you end up feeling exhausted. Making a more gradual transition can help you avoid the fatigue after your shower.

  5. Keep a glass of cold water handy. Drinking cold water during your shower, or as soon as you get out can help redirect blood flow internally for your body to help maintain your internal body temperature. That means more blood flow to your insides and a better chance your heart is getting what it needs to function.

  6. Don't dry off right away. Leaving water on your skin can help move the heat away from your body faster. This can let your body recover quicker and send blood internally to your organs faster, reducing your fatigue level.

  7. Wait to get dressed. If you put clothes on right away, it traps the heat in. This means your body will work harder to send blood to the surface of your skin to get it out. If you have to get dressed right away because you share a public bathroom in a college dorm, wear light clothing like shorts and a tank top. Try to avoid heavy sweatshirts or fleece pajama pants.

  8. Don't brush your hair or blow dry it as soon as you get out. Doing exercise with your arms will make you more fatigued. While lifting your arms up to brush your hair may not sound like intense exercise to some, every time you use your muscles, your body has to adjust to provide them the blood and oxygen they need. For people with POTS, brushing your hair can feel like an Olympic sport.

When you get out of the shower, you're supposed to feel clean and refreshed, not fresh out of energy. We'd love to hear from you. Do you have any other tips? Feel free to write them in the comments below.

This article is intended to serve as educational material and should not be a replacement for individual medical advice. If you'd like to schedule a consultation with a physical therapist for personal recommendations, click the book now button at the top of the page.

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Thank you for the article and tips! I've found using warm water instead of hot has helped me tremendously, but still end up very tired. I haven't heard of drinking cold water during or after shower, and I'm definitely going to try this!

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