Dysautonomia is an umbrella term for multiple conditions that cause dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system
This is the part of your central nervous system that controls the processes that we don’t have to think about such as breathing, digestion, pupil reactions, blood pressure, heart rate and perspiration to name a few. Over 70 million people worldwide suffer from some form of dysautonomia.
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If you suffer from dysautonomia you my experience symptoms such as dizziness, light-headedness, fainting, migraines, headaches, abnormal sweating, fluctuations in heart rate and malnutrition. A functional neurologist with a vast understanding of the brain and central nervous system diagnoses Dysautonomia.
A tilt table assessment monitoring vitals is crucial to understand where in the arc from 0-90 degrees or supine to standing the dysfunction is occurring. Our autonomic system should adapt to changes in gravity throughout every second of our day. When that fails to happen is when people develop symptoms of dysautonomia.
One very common symptom is when people stand up and they feel lightheaded. This is NOT a normal response but most people chalk it up to their “normal”. Many people do not seek help for a symptom like this because it is not interfering with their normal activity; however, it is the sign of central nervous system dysfunction and could be an indication that a functional neurological evaluation is necessary, especially if you have other symptoms as well, headaches and dizziness would be the most common.
Some well-known forms of dysautonomia include:
* POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome)
This is a condition that causes the heart rate to increase quickly and significantly upon standing. Some may have a sustained higher than normal resting heart rate as well.
* Neurocardiac Syncope (Vasovagal)
This is when alterations in your vitals cause you to pass out upon changing positions. This could be mild to severe in nature and may cause further issue as concussions are common among people with vasovagal syncope.
* Orthostatic hypotension
Causes the blood pressure to drop when changing positions against gravity. (ex; from laying to standing)
* Multiple Systems Atrophy (a Parkinson’s plus syndrome)
MSA is a devastating condition that presents similar to Parkinson’s disease. The major difference is that MSA affects the autonomic nervous system where classically Parkinson’s does not.
* Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
CRPS is a chronic pain syndrome presenting after an injury or trauma. Some believe this condition may have its root in autonomic dysfunction while others do not.
Many go undiagnosed with dysautonomia as the symptoms are very similar to other disorders. The difference is in the root cause of the issue and here at CFNC we pride ourselves on finding the root cause of your symptoms in order to provide you the most appropriate and comprehensive treatment. For more information on dysautonomia and treatment options, click here to view our blog post.