Editor’s Note:The following blog post appears in our Meet the Patient series — case studies of BioDesign Wellness Center patients have or are currently treating. In some cases, to ensure confidentiality, patient names and other details have been changed or omitted. That said, the specifics you’ll below read about conditions, diagnoses, and treatments are accurate.
After some unusual lab results, Abby’s mother searched online for a doctor or medical center in Tampa with expertise in her daughter’s condition. That’s when she found us, first through Dr. Matt Lewis’ personal blog, where the first post she saw was about POTS..
After only a few minutes of talking with Dr. Lewis, Abby and her mom were convinced we could help. At their first appointment, Abby was lying on Dr. Lewis’ office floor, unable to sit upright. He asked about adrenals, water damaged buildings (WDBs), and more. Because the family’s home had previously experienced a large window leak several times in its bonus room, what Dr. Lewis said about WDBs and chronic inflammation was like a light bulb going off for Abby and her parents (though her dad took some convincing).
Based on Abby’s symptoms and medical history and the fact that the family’s home was water damaged, we suspected that Abby was, in fact, suffering from POTS, but also that her adrenals were involved and that she was likely to be suffering from chronic inflammation response syndrome (CIRS). CIRS is a multi-symptom, multi-system illness caused by biotoxins or neurotoxins from a biological source, such as molds in WDBs, tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease, cyanobacteria, dinoflagellates such as those responsible for red tide, Pfiesteria, and poisonous spiders such as the Brown Recluse.
Initially, we recommended Abby immediately eliminate sugar, caffeine, carbs, vegetables that grow below ground (such as potatoes), and bananas. Within a few days, Abby was feeling remarkably better, as she reports in her own words:
What a huge difference this made in just a few days! I was able to celebrate my birthday on the Monday after our first meeting that previous Friday night.
We ordered numerous tests to help us identify and address the root cause of all of Abby’s ailments and put her on the path to recovery. Abby was like many patients who seek treatment for continue reading
Editor’s Note:Meet the Patient is a series we recently introduced on the BioDesign Wellness Center blog to present case studies of actual patients we have treated over the years or are currently treating. Our hope is that these stories resonate with anyone who is or knows of someone struggling with a similar health condition. That would include those who have not received an accurate diagnosis or effective medical treatment, as well as those who may be close to giving up hope of ever feeling happy again.
Note that names and certain other details may have been changed or omitted to ensure patient-doctor confidentiality, but specifics about conditions, diagnoses, and treatments are accurate. Case studies are based on information provided by actual patients and their doctors, and patients have agreed to share their stories. This is our second story in the series and the first part of that story.
Abby was a high school student here in Tampa when she experienced two fainting episodes about a year apart. In both cases, she was told by doctors not affiliated with our Tampa Functional Medicine practice that these episodes were related to dehydration.
The second episode came after a weeklong cruise with her family and resulted in what looked like a seizure. Abby was transported to a local hospital, subjected to numerous tests, and was seen by a neurologist and pediatric cardiologist. The episode was ruled a syncope seizure, which is characterized by a loss of consciousness caused by a drop in blood pressure.
After being released from the hospital, Abby followed up with a cardiologist, who diagnosed her as having hypermobility(joints that can move beyond the normal range of motion). He said that was probably part of the issue with her feeling “off” and passing out. She was told to increase her fluid and salt intake.
From August of 2017 to the beginning of 2018, Abby’s health gradually deteriorated. She experienced more dizziness, became weaker and complained of exhaustion. She returned to the cardiologist, who ordered an echocardiogram. All of Abby’s echocardiograms (a total of four, including a stress test) came back normal. The cardiologist also ordered a tilt-table test.
During a tilt-table test, the patient is securely strapped to a table that quickly tilts the patient into the upright position. In healthy patients, the body regulates heart rate and blood pressure to supply the brain with sufficient oxygen to remain conscious. Patients who pass out after being tilted into the upright position suffer from a condition called continue reading
Most residents along Florida’s Gulf Coast are well aware of the phenomenon known as red tide. Just recently, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported that the red tide organism — Karenia brevis — was measured at bloom concentrations in southwest Florida. And in early October, it was recorded at background levels in northwest Florida.
Red tide blooms are not an uncommon sight for those of us who reside in Tampa. Such blooms occurred over the course of 14 months in 2017-2018 and were apparent in 17 months in 2005-2006.
A severe bloom that occurred in 2012-2013 killed hundreds of manatees and scores of other marine life. Significant blooms also occurred in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, with smaller blooms in other years. And it’s not a recent phenomenon. Written descriptions of red tide events in the Gulf of Mexico reach back to the era of Spanish exploration in the New World.
According to an article published in the journal Ecotoxicology, the impact of red tide includes “massive fish kills; marine mammal, sea turtle and sea bird mortalities; benthic community die-off; and public health effects from shellfish contamination and inhalation of air-borne toxins.”
Symptoms of red tide exposure
For those of us who regularly use our beautiful coastlines for recreational purposes, it becomes important that we’re knowledgeable about the symptoms of red tide exposure. While swimming continue reading
Tampa, Fla. residents will recognize Morgan Boykin for her many accomplishments — 2016 Miss Tampa, 2017 Miss Osceola, 2018 Miss Winter Haven, the feature baton twirler for the University of South Florida from 2016-2018, and co-owner and operator of the Southern B Boutique, which she started with her sister. What you may not know about Morgan Boykin is that she has been living with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) since 2016.
What is POTS?
POTS is an often-debilitating chronic illness characterized by increased heart rate, low blood pressure, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and fainting, the last symptom of which is why this disorder is often referred to as “the fainting disease.” POTS patients like Morgan Boykin frequently find themselves waging an ongoing battle against gravity; any change in posture — standing up, sitting up, adjusting the blankets — can cause someone with POTS to feel fait or pass out. Prior to being diagnosed, Boykin was passing out over 30 times a day!
These fainting spells are no surprise when you consider the impact of POTS on heart rate. A normal heart rate when the body is at rest is 70 to 80 beats per minute (BPM). That rate normally climbs another 10 to 15 beats per minute when standing up, then settles back down. With POTS, a person’s heart rate often increases 30 to 50 beats per minute or more, resulting in lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting. At one point, Boykin’s doctor told her that her heart rate climbed into the 200s, while she was asleep.
At the root of this dramatic increase in heart rate is the autonomic nervous system (ANS) — the part of the nervous system responsible for controlling bodily functions subconsciously, such as breathing, heartbeat, and digestion. ANS malfunctions give rise to various medical conditions including POTS, orthostatic hypotension (OH), orthostatic intolerance (OI), neurogenic bowel (gastroparesis, intestinal dysmotility, and constipation).
While POTS patients like Boykin and advocacy groups like The Dysautonomia Project work to raise awareness of POTS and other autonomic nervous system disorders, many of us in healthcare — especially those of us who practice functional and integrative healthcare — are continue reading