Compression For The Clueless

Doctors insist that POTS patients make many lifestyle changes. One of the easiest lifestyle changes you can make is wearing compression garments. Compression garments work to raise low blood pressure, prevent swelling, and minimize blood pooling. Compression garments aren’t a magic fix, but they help many POTS  patients enough to use them daily.

Myths
Compression garments are uncomfortabledream-panty-2014-all-med
This is often true at first. Finding the best length, pressure, and brand will make a world of difference in your comfort. My favorite, most comfortable tights are JUZO soft. They come in different colors and pressures. Experimenting with different tights can be expensive, but in many cases it is worth it to find ones you are comfortable to wear often.

Compression Garments are ugly
They don’t have to be! Medical white and tan are not your only options. Rejuva health has compression garments that I get compliments on a lot- no one even notices they are for compression. However, my favorite tights are the not from Rejuva Health because I find other brands more comfortable. For example, my favorite (Juzo soft) also come in fun colors (as seen above to the right) and are nice and comfy. Here are some ideas to rock the tights and look fabulous instead of sick.

coloredtights14

This is not me- Source

You Have to Wear Compression 24/7
I wear compression tights nearly every single day, but not for everything. When I am going to be up on my feet and standing a lot they are a necessity. However, if I am watching a movie at home I don’t wear them. I can put my legs up and take a break from compression; it feels nice- even when they are comfy. I also do not wear compression to sleep unless I am having severe leg pain. If I want to wear compression constantly, I will wear a lower pressure while relaxing.

You Don’t Have Choices

There are a lot of different options. You can choose the color, length, pressure, open toed vs closed toes, open crotch vs. closed crotch. In fact, all your options can even be overwhelming once you know where to look. Here and here are great places to start.

Tradeoffs
There are some tradeoffs for compression tights that you will have to figure out for yourself what is more important.

Heat vs Compression
In the summer, compression tights become difficult. I am heat intolerant like most POTS patients, because I feel terrible the warmer I am, it is a tradeoff to what will make me feel best. Personally, I have found that 80F degrees and below compression garments are worth it. Beyond that, I get too warm for compression.

EDS vs. Compression
As the pressure increases in the compression garment, it becomes more difficult to put tights on. This can be a problem if you have Ehler’s Danlos as your fingers may subluxate or dislocate. These people may want to stick to a lower pressure or get help putting compression garments on.

Sometimes putting on compression tights is difficult, with or without EDS to deal with. This video shows some methods. Don’t worry, with some practice it gets much easier! 

Levels of Pressure*
There are different levels of pressure in compression gear. More pressure is placed on your body as the number increases. If you are willing to spend some money it is easiest to start at 15-20 mmHg and go up in compression until your legs aren’t swelling or hurting as much. Basically, you are looking for the lowest strength to get the job done. If you are tight on cash consider buying 20-30mmHg because it is most commonly used and works the best for most people. Increasing pressure should be done with a doctor if you still do not get relief at 20-30mmHg.

15-20 mmHg
This is a very minimal pressure that is often found in sports compression garments. This low amount of pressure is perfect for short travels and patients with extremely mild swelling and blood pooling. This compression is also commonly used in pregnant women because it is gentle.

20-30 mmHg
This is the most frequently prescribed compression level. It is perfect for extended travel and moderate swelling. This is the most common pressure I hear recommended for POTS, and the one with the most options for stylish tights.

30-40 mmHg
Do not use without speaking to a doctor; you should not wear this high of compression unless medically necessary. I have heard of some POTS doctors prescribing this level for those with severe blood pooling and swelling. This is the strength I usually wear, but for Post-thrombotic syndrome. Compression tights help with my blood pooling, swelling, and pain.

40-50 mmHg
Do not wear this high of compression unless medically necessary as deemed by a doctor. I have never heard of a doctor recommending this level for POTS patients.

Levels of Coverage
argyle-copyKnee High
If you experience a lot of leg swelling, I would steer clear from this length. The swelling in the legs sometimes gets so bad that the band around your knee area that the compression socks end up cutting off circulation. I started out wearing this length but after seeing how much swelling was happening above and around my knees I was told to steer clear.

Thigh Highd_19
Whether you like these or not probably has to do a lot with your body type. If you have slim muscular thighs I have heard of them being comfortable. If you are at all curvy (it doesn’t take much) thigh high compression tights may dig into you, roll down, and look awkward (even with the correct size).

floral_1Waist High
This length is my favorite. I feel like I get more compression, and at least for me they are the most comfortable. People wear tights all the time so I don’t feel like I am dressed strangely while wearing them.

Abdominal Bindersdb5d818797bab086bab7d15d10b63acd
In some cases of POTS, blood pooling that can even go up to your abdomen. I just recently started using an abdominal binder- I didn’t think it would work. It actually helps a lot more than expected. You can find a “waist trainer” that does the same thing and is infinitely more attractive.

Solidea 0433A5 Bilateral with Gauntlet 6_BlackArm Compression
Blood pooling also occurs in the arms. It is not as severe and not even a symptom in many POTS patients. Sports shirts with arm compression or compression shirts with sleeves may help you feel even better. The arm compression helps me minimally. I try to buy it in the winter because that is the only time arm compression outweighs my need to stay cool.

Compression garments don’t have to be ugly or uncomfortable. There are plenty of cute outfit ideas all over the internet for tights. Ask your doctor what compression level to start with and don’t be hesitant to experiment with different brands and lengths.

*This is not intended to replace medical advice. Always ask your doctor if you have any medical questions!

Look for even more on compression in my upcoming book!

Lifestyle Changes: Which ones are worth it?

A lot of my experience with POTS specialist has been telling me things I can’t do. So which ones (for me) actually are worth a try and which ones just lower quality of life for not much payoff? These are just what have been my personal experiences over the past 5 years.

Carbs and Sugar: Try it. One of our fellow POTSies, Ella (Deliciously Ella), changed her diet and saw a huge change in her symptoms. That is great but not everyone does. I have found that if I cut out most carbs and simple sugars I feel a bit better, but it really is just a bit. So try it. See if it is worth it and support another POTSie. It is worth it to mention that a lot of her recipes are not Gastroparesis friendly. If you have a broken stomach beware.

Stop Drinking Alcohol: Hell no! If I make sure to remain hydrated then I am going to drink. I was diagnosed with POTS when I was 19 and I have been drinking since I was 21. I love red wine and if I want to drink and be social the one time a week I can actually have a social life I am going to. I am in my young 20’s and POTS already feels like it has murdered my social life. I drink extra water, have extra salt, and say do it. I am not going to let POTS stomp out my entire social life. Just use moderation people. POTS + a hangover can set you back days.

Its true alcohol does kill people buutt.... - Imgur

Stop Singing: What? NO. I had a doctor tell me to stop singing. It is supposed to help. Um are we trying to get rid of any fun I could possibly have? I sing in the car and that’s not going to stop.

Working Out: HahaHaha. The fact that working out is supposed to help in a condition where we have exercise intolerance is the universe’s cosmic joke on us. For me personally this doesn’t go to well. I try and work out and end up passed out later that day and even worse the next day. It seems to be worth a try for most people but be careful if your POTS is severe.

Eat a Ton of Salt: Do it. I have at least half a dozen kidney stones a year. They think it is both genetic and from my salt intake but I keep having salt. Because as much as kidney stones are terrible increased salt consumption helps me so much on a day to day basis.

MRW someone threatens to call the cops because they don't have their ID and I won't sell them alcohol. - Imgur

Drink a lot of water: Try it. Don’t go and drown yourself because that is possible. However, if you can drink a lot of water and can keep it down then why wouldn’t you try this?

Raise the head of your bed: Why not? I have seen no benefit to this personally but raising the head of your bed is so easy it is kind of like why not try it?

Wear Compression Stockings: Why not? I wear these all the time during the winter. During the summer it becomes a tradeoff between how much warmer they will make me and how much they will help with blood pooling. So usually I wear them but if it is 90+ I am probably going to leave them at home.

Don’t stand a lot: Duh. My POTS is severe enough my body doesn’t leave me a choice in this one, but I think for a lot of people I is important to point out it helps.

Get 9 hours of sleep: DO IT. This helps my POTS almost as much as water and salt. It is completely worth it to make sleep a priority for you.

Duckling falling asleep - Imgur

Which ones do you feel like are worth it? Agree/ disagree?