1. What is the autonomic nervous system? The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is the regulatory part of the central nervous system (CNS). The ANS regulates the automatic functions within the body that occur without concious effort. For example: heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, respiration, digestion, etc.
2. What is autonomic dysfunction? Autonomic dysfunction, (also called dysautonomia), is a chronic illness that causes a dysregulation of ANS functions. It can be a symptom of another illness, or an illness in itself.
3. What are some examples of specific dysautonomias?
Two of the most commonly occurring forms of Dysautonomia are Postural
Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), and Neurally Mediated
Hypotention (NMH). Infrequent episodes of Vasovagal Syncope are also common in adolescents. These patients may later outgrow the condition, or develop Neurally Mediated Syncope. A couple of other examples of Dysautonomia include:
Hereditary Sensory and Autonomic Neuropathy (HSAN)
Familial Dysautonomia/Riley-Day Syndrome (FD)
Central Nervous System Dysautonomia
Multiple System Atrophy/Shy-Drager Syndrome (MSA)
Pure Autonomic Failure/Bradbury-Eggleston Syndrome (PAF)
Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathies with Dysautonomia
Parkinson's Disease with Autonomic Failure
Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome (CCHS)
Autoimmune Autonomic Neuropathies
Idiopathic Autonomic Neuropathies
Mitral Valve Prolapse with Dysautonomia (MVP)
Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia with Dysautonnomia (IST)
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with POTS/NMH (CFS)
4. What is a Vasovagal Reflex? In order for you to stay concious, the ANS must keep the heart pumping oxygenated blood to your brain. A Vasovagal Reflex is the result of an exagerated responce by the ANS. This can result in nausea, or fainting. Fainting is not all that uncommon, and Vasovagal Reflex Syncope is the most common cause. Some individuals may only faint once in their lifetime, but others have repeated symptoms. Those with repeated symptoms are often diagnosed as having dysautonomia.
5. What are some of the more common symptoms of an autonomic dysfunction? Some of the more common symptoms include:
Variable Heart Rate
Variable Blood Pressure
Sudden drops in blood pressure
Narrowing Pulse Pressure
Aphasia (Speech Disturbances)
Delayed Gastric Emptying
Increased/Decreased Pain Sensitivity
Not every form of dysautonomia causes every symptom, nor does every patient experience the same group of symptoms. Some patients experience many, while others experience very few.
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