For people suffering from Orthostatic Intolerance, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia, Mast Cell Activtation or EDS. Follow me as I document my struggle towards better health.

Stomach flu and POTS - An Emergency Guide

So you have come down with the Stomach Flu, gastroenteritis, or food poisoning. The nausea, vomiting and diarrhea is unpleasant(and unbecoming) to say the very least but poses real dangers for someone with POTS or OI. Losing so much fluid in so little time can be devastating to someone with POTS where chronic low blood volume or hypovolemia can be present.

Has this happened to me?  Why yes, it has happened to me.  And at the most inconvenient moment...of course.  We had a wonderful holiday planned: a few days in Boston to watch a Patriot's home game and then a week long trip south to enjoy the sun and sand.  However, the stadium food at Foxborough had a different plan for me.  I think it must have been the bratwurst sausage with the fried onions, peppers and all the fixin's.  As soon as the game was over (the Patriot's won) I started feeling the effects.  By the time we reached the hotel the dams had burst and I was one with the hotel toilet bowl.

My greatest fear was that the sudden loss of fluids would trigger a relapse of the most severe POTS symptoms; chest pain, inability to sustain blood pressure when standing, total brain fog etc etc.  So what could I do to prevent a relapse?

This was my plan:

  • Endured 6 hours of the vomiting and diarrhea (until it started to subside).  Took small sips of bottled water.  No sugary drinks.
  • Took a chewable Dimenhydrinate tablet  (Gravol or Dramamine) right after vomiting without water.  I slowly nibbled at the tablet and let it dissolve in my mouth.  At this point my stomach was so sensitive that if I took the tablet with water it would have been returned immediately
  • Waited until 2hrs after last toilet bowl exercise to start sipping water. 250ml per 1/4 hr
  • Waited another 2hrs to start drinking warm chicken or vegetable broth with a high sodium content (800-900mg per litre) 250ml per 1/4 hr.
  • As long as the stomach is quiet, start increasing the liquids.
Other pointers:
  • I avoided taking Imodium as it decreases the intestinal activity unless I had sustained diarrhea for longer than 6hrs or unless a doctor suggested I take it.  With POTS or OI you may already suffer from low motility so the imodium may not be such a good thing.
  • I avoided sugary drinks as they can make matters worse
  • I avoided milk drinks or substances as they also can make matters worse
  • Start the lots salt diet for 2 days following the episode
 This plan was good for a 24hr flu variety of stomach irritation and not for a more serious stomach problem.  If my condition had become worse or if the symptoms had continued unabated for more than 24 hrs then I would have sought emergency medical attention.  With POTS or OI you cannot allow yourself to get severely dehydrated.  When in doubt call your doctor and err on the side of caution!!


  1. Great post, very informative, hopefully it will be some of those lurkers out into the open.

  2. Eating foods and liquid at a slow pace is best. Very good post. Thank you.