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Orthostatic Intolerance: What It Is, Diagnosis, Coping Tips, Research Centers and Trials

  [ 32 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • August 9, 2008

If you have problems such as lightheadedness when rising to a standing position or when standing, you may have orthostatic intolerance (“orthostatic” means “standing upright”).
  • Importantly, orthostatic intolerance is common in people with ME/CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), Fibromyalgia, and associated conditions.
  • Orthostatic intolerance involves a problem with the body’s automatic regulation of blood pressure/heart rate, and is an “umbrella” term that takes in a group of dysfunctions with many possible symptoms, variously referred to as postural hypotension, autonomic dysfunction, orthostatic dysfunction, dysautonomia, familial dysautonomia, postural tachychardia syndrome (POTS), and more.
  • A common diagnostic test for orthostatic intolerance is the “tilt table test.”

Basic Coping Advice

The CFIDS Association of America has created a collection of tips for handling orthostatic intolerance, with a focus on coping during hot weather, when symptoms may be worse. To quote the August 2008 CFIDSLink e-newsletter: “Many people with CFS experience orthostatic intolerance - problems with upright posture that can include dizziness, feeling faint, muddled thinking, increased fatigue, nausea and profuse sweating. These symptoms can be worse in warm temperatures, so we offer these tips to cope during the summer months (and year round, if needed).”

To read the CFIDS Association's two-page “print-and-go” Hot Weather Tips For Orthostatic Intolerance handout, click here.

Information on ME/CFS & Orthostatic Intolerance

“The Perils of Standing: Orthostatic Intolerance and Chronic Fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS)” is a thorough science-based overview of what happens in the body, tests, and studies, by ME/CFS research reporter Cort Johnson, founder of the Phoenix Rising website (

Some Leading Orthostatic Intolerance Research Centers

Vanderbilt Medical Center Autonomic Dysfunction Center, Nashville, TN

New York Medical College Center for Pediatric Hypotension, Valhalla

Mount Sinai Medical Center Autonomic Disorders Research and Treatment Program, NYC

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Bethesda, MD

Note: This information has not been evaluated by the FDA. It is generic and is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure any illness, condition, or disease. It is very important that you make no change in your healthcare plan or health support regimen without researching and discussing it with your professional healthcare team.

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