Top 10 Tips for College Students with Dysautonomia

Dysautonomia International asked our community to give us their best tips for college students with dysautonomia.  Here are the top 10 tips.

1“We’ve learned for my daughter with POTS, no early morning classes to give her time to “get going.” We also met with Student Disability Services at her college– they were so helpful! She’s been able to use a Live Scribe pen that records the lectures as she writes to be able to reference back to the class at the times “brain fog” kicked-in. Her classes are also spaced apart so she doesn’t have to rush so much from one class to another. She’s also able to have water and Gatorade with her in class. We’ve learned a lot together through it all!” -Caryn Williams

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2  “Talking to your teachers at the beginning of the quarter/semester is a must in my opinion. I always showed up in their office the first week of classes. I would made copies of my doctors’ notes for them and offer it to them. Some took it, and some didn’t. I would briefly explain my condition and allow them to ask questions if they wanted. If I was having trouble finishing a paper on time due to brain fog or a bad flare up I would email my teachers and let them know before the paper was due. 95% of the time the teachers would volunteer to let me turn in it late, or make some other arrangements for me. It’s also really helpful if you can make friends in each class and exchange info that way they can let you know what you missed if you aren’t able to be there.” -Heather Applebury

3“I found that if I study whenever I could and never crammed. I could always get enough sleep. I graduated Magna Cum Laude in Physics. Brain fog isn’t impossible!” -Lorin Bales


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4“Let go of expectations. It’s impossible to do all of the things people expect of you and all of the things you expect of yourself without becoming completely exhausted. Going through college with POTS is hard, and it’s ok if you can’t do everything. Don’t feel bad if you need to miss class, can’t go out with friends, or even have to take some time off. Chances are, you’re still doing a great job.” -Rachel Leeds

5 “Always carry a giant water bottle and salty snacks with you.” -Emily Coday


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“I start all my assignments super early. That means even opening a word document and typing the header for a paper if I’m feeling absolutely terrible. It helps me gauge how much I have to do.” -Zack Orban

“Be careful about drinking alcohol — IF you have your mind made up that you are going to, drink at least 8oz of water for every alcoholic beverage.” -Maggie Clore



“Use a roll-around backpack for those heavy books and fluids.” -Lorin Bales



9“Seek support from your school’s counseling center. Navigating college with chronic illness can be quite draining at times, and it is very important to take care of your mental health. Access to the counseling center is included in your tuition, so it cannot hurt to check it out! Sometimes having someone to talk to can make all the difference.” -Cassidy Celeste

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10“Before the school year begins or as soon as the semester begins, meet with the campus health clinic staff to talk to them about dysautonomia or POTS. Let them know you may not need their help managing your dysautonomia or POTS, but if you do, you want to be sure they are familiar with the condition and comfortable providing the assistance you need. Give them contact info for your good dysautonomia doctor, if you have one, and give them some journal articles from Dysautonomia International’s website about your condition.” -Micha Freeland

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