Gastrointestinal Symptoms Associated with Orthostatic Intolerance

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Background:The term orthostatic intolerance is used to describe symptoms of hemodynamic instability such as lightheadedness, fatigue, impaired cognition and syncope that develop on assuming an upright posture. Common forms of orthostatic intolerance in childhood include postural tachycardia syndrome and neurally mediated hypotension.Objective:A descriptive report of the clinical characteristics of patients presenting with gastrointestinal symptoms who are ultimately found to have orthostatic intolerance.Methods:A medical record review of all patients referred to the pediatric gastroenterology service at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center who had an abnormal tilt table test between June 1996 and December 2000.Results:Of 24 eligible subjects aged 9-17 years (mean, 14.3 years), four had postural tachycardia syndrome, eight had both postural tachycardia and neurally mediated hypotension, and 12 had neurally mediated hypotension alone. The most common presenting gastrointestinal symptoms were abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Median number of gastrointestinal symptoms per patient was 3 (range, 1-7), and 87% of the patients experienced gastrointestinal symptoms for more than 1 year and 48% experienced gastrointestinal symptoms for more than 3 years. Follow-up information was available on 18 patients. Seventy-eight percent of patients (14 of 18) had complete resolution of symptoms with treatment of orthostatic intolerance.Conclusion:Pediatric patients with chronic upper gastrointestinal symptoms may have underlying orthostatic intolerance. In patients with upper gastrointestinal symptoms and orthostatic intolerance, treatment of orthostatic intolerance may result in resolution of gastrointestinal symptoms.

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