In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

February 17, 2015

More Than a Pinch of Salt

By In the Loop
ProcopioCrista804

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Campbell.

Crista Procopio had seen so many doctors and had become so frustrated with the lack of a diagnosis for her symptoms that she almost threw her shoe at one of them. That’s how she describes one particularly distressing medical encounter to our friends at Cosmopolitan magazine. That doctor, she tells the magazine, “told me I was PMS-ing.” She’d had her concerns written off one too many times.

Crista’s symptoms of dizziness, “unbearable chest pain,” and almost constant nausea had become too much to ignore. She had suffered chest pains from the time she was a kid, but she tells Cosmo she ignored them for many years because “no one else thought it was a big deal.” It did turn out to be a big deal when, during her freshman year of college, Crista became so ill that she couldn’t get out of bed. She threw up so often she lost 20 pounds. Things were so bad she temporarily withdrew from college and began to look for answers.

Her quest eventually led her to Brent Goodman, M.D., a Mayo Clinic neurologist in Arizona. “I knew that I was suffering from a serious, physical illness, and I decided to go to Mayo Clinic because I knew that they were used to dealing with difficult health cases like mine,” Crista tells us. Dr. Goodman considered Crista’s full range of symptoms (nausea, fatigue, chest pains, numbness in her fingers and toes, problems regulating her temperature, tachycardia, dizziness and severe migraines) and told her that she fit the criteria for postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome or POTS. Dr. Goodman tells Cosmo that while it’s not clear why people develop the condition, “there may be genetic factors that predispose individuals to develop it.”

Unfortunately, diagnosis was the easy part. “Currently, there is no cure for POTS,” according to Dysautonomia International, a nonprofit organization Crista volunteers for. But while she doesn’t have a “grand treatment plan or anything,” Crista says, “at least I have some answers -- finally!” And she isn’t letting her condition stop her. She graduated from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and now is business development manager for Redox Diagnostics LLC and business coordinator for Trinity Consultants Inc. She also started an online support group for people with POTS called “With a Side of Salt“ (for good reason). Her diet now includes a whopping 10 grams of salt each day, one of the ways she is managing her condition.

“What I love most about my Mayo Clinic experience, is how everyone works together as a team,” Crista tells us. “Every time I walk into Mayo Clinic, I can honestly breathe a sigh of relief. I know that whatever crazy health issue I am currently dealing with will be taken care of and everything will be OK.”

We will breathe a sigh of relief if you share your thoughts below and share this story with others using the handy social media tools.

Tags: Dr Brent Goodman, dysautonomia, Patient Stories, Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, POTS

Thanks I’m so glad that you
Receive đ the right meds.
Are you still se native to
Heat and what to dò. Are you
With a neurologist near home.
Are all of your systems taken
Care of;

REPLY

What will take away the
Heat sensation and when
Will the pain go away.
Did the hospital help

REPLY

How are you treating your problem with heat cold

REPLY

I have found myself trying to navigate what it means to be a mother of a 9 year old who has been diagnosed with autonomic nervous system dysfunction. I am very grateful for your article. Thank you.

REPLY

And what did you. Learn
And what doctors do you
Have now.is there help

REPLY

So what did she receive for
Her decease yes salt.and
What else for all those symptoms. What happen to
Her dizziness .please post

REPLY

How well are you
can you walk straight
what’s going on now
with the salt and
what else do you get.
please post

REPLY

Well no cure and all she
got was salt
so far all these decease
No cure but a lot of talking.
what did she get fixed
please post

REPLY

Hello! I had cardiac rehab at Cleveland Clinic! That really helps! You slowly and down low/like rowing or sitting in a bike….build up your leg strength. Then you can work upward , until you can walk at least 40 minutes a day. The fludrocortisone did nothing for me. The cardiac rehab works! (No heart problem, just P.O.T.S.) the other thing that brought my BP up was Ritalin, because I was so fatigued and sleepy! Feeling pretty good for now! Cannot stand those hose on my legs, so sure thing the muscles, pushes the blood flow up! Pregnant POTS patients usually feel better, because blood flow is mid-centered! Ttyl! 🙂

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Great job at least the dizziness has left you.keep pushing for more help on those legs
thanks sandra

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My daughter recently had a tilt test done and it is pointing towards POTS. We are going to the POTS clinic for the first time this coming Monday. We as a family are nervous, I can not imagine how nervous she may be. Is there anything you can tell us on what to expect with our first visit?
thank you

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Does anyone’s POTS symptoms subside or go away when they have a common cold? I am a 23 year old female who has mild POTS and having a cold has made my usual nausea and fatigue disappear almost completely. It seemed unusual.

REPLY
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