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Our favorite memories from the 2018 Dysautonomia International Conference
- Jun 29, 2018
On June 22-24, hundreds of dysautonomia patients and their families congregated in Nashville, Tennessee, to participate in the sixth annual Dysautonomia International (DI) Conference. For the third year in a row, SaltStick attended the conference as well, to take part in a weekend full of educational seminars, engaging speakers, social events and dysautonomia advocacy training. With more than 400 guests, the DI Conference is the largest of its kind, bringing together patients, caregivers, researchers, physicians, industry representatives, non-profit leaders and government policy makers. From meeting Superbowl MVP Nick Foles and his wife, to tasting the many varieties of salt, every attendee walked away having learned something new about dysautonomia, its causes, treatments and related conditions. We, for our part, continue to be inspired by the courage and determination embodied by dysautonomia patients and their families. We enjoyed each conversation with everyone who stopped by our booth, and we can’t wait to attend next year’s conference in Philadelphia. Below are some of our favorite memories. Nick Foles and his wife Tori announced their partnership with DI. When Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles’ wife Tori started experiencing daily spells of dizziness, her doctors told her she had either contracted a virus or the symptoms were all in her head (a sad fact with which many spoonies can relate). Tori, unable to accept this answer, went back to her doctor and demanded further tests. After performing a standing test, she was diagnosed with POTS at age 23, six weeks after experiencing her first set of symptoms. Tori is quick to point out that she is luckier than many dysautonomia patients, for whom it can take years and visits to several different doctors before a diagnosis is received. At the conference this year, the couple announced their official partnership with DI, through which they hope to raise awareness about POTS, support research, education and advocacy. To learn more about the Foles’ story, check out this recent CNN article. More than 400 dysautonomia patients gathered in a single location. Even though dysautonomia is not rare, due to the lack of public awareness of dysautonomia and its related conditions, patients can often feel isolated. And because the condition does not have any outwardly-evident symptoms (a patient can feel awful on the inside but look fine on the outside), POTS patients can sometimes suffer from the misunderstanding of others, who can mistakenly believe the symptoms are nothing more than the side effects of anxiety and depression. Each year, the annual conference provides a safe space for patients to gather, where they can freely talk about their conditions with both patients and experts who understand what they are going through, as well as provide tips for how to manage the condition in an effective way. We learned about the many flavors of salt. At the Saturday lunch, attendees were treated to a table dedicated entirely to the different flavors of salt. From table salt to Kosher salt to Himalayan sea salt to Fleur de Sel, we learned that POTS patients have a range of options to consume the recommended amounts of sodium to help manage their symptoms, which can range up to 10 grams per day. We were reminded that SaltStick Fastchews taste great. Speaking of diverse flavors, one option patients have is SaltStick Fastchews, which are chewable tablets that provide sodium and potassium, among other electrolytes. Available in both tart orange and lemon-lime flavors, Fastchews do not taste like salt, which for POTS patients came as a welcome relief from their savory snacks and meals. Many, many attendees who stopped by our booth couldn’t help but exclaim in satisfaction that the Fastchews “tasted really good.” Of course, in addition to Fastchews, POTS patients also have the option of SaltStick Vitasium, which is a medical food specifically formulated to provide sodium and potassium to patients with autonomic dysfunction, when increased plasma volume has been shown to be beneficial. Two years ago, we announced our own partnership with DI, and today, 10 percent of all sales of Vitassium are donated to the organization to help fund advocacy and research. Our customers continue to be awesome. Hundreds of people stopped by our booth just to tell us about how much they loved SaltStick Vitassium or about how it has helped them or their child manage their symptoms. All weekend, we heard inspiring stories about patients who overcame difficult obstacles to do what others take for granted, or who worked hard to gain back a part of their lives they thought they had lost. We are so grateful to the community for their kind words to us throughout the weekend, and we cannot wait for another successful conference in 2019. Have you heard of the SaltStick Vitassium Club? The Vitassium Club is strictly for individuals with dysautonomia, POTS or EDS that use SaltStick as a medical food. If this describes you, or a child or dependent you care for, then we encourage you to join the Vitassium Club today.