Dysautonomia is dysfunction of the ANS (autonomic nervous system), which is the system that operates mostly below conscious awareness and regulates the functioning of the body’s internal organs. For instance, the ANS affects heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, salivation, perspiration, pupillary dilation, micturition (urination), and sexual arousal. There is no scientifically proven treatment for dysautonomia. Current treatments are aimed at relieving some of the symptoms.
Treating “Pure” Dysautonomia
Patients with “pure” dysautonomia, in which there is no underlying neurological condition, typically present with symptoms that are cardiovascular rather than neurological in origin. While such patients may also experience symptoms including fatigue, sleep disturbances, altered cognitive function (brain fog), cold or heat intolerance, headaches, and bladder or bowel dysfunction, it is frequently the cardiovascular effects that first motivate dysautonomia patients to seek medical care.
Cardiac conditions common to dysautonomia include syncope (tendency to pass out a lot) and POTS (fluctuations in heart rate based on body position). In most cases, patients end up seeing several doctors before being diagnosed with autonomic dysfunction, often by a cardiologist.
Where Traditional Treatments Fall Short
Traditionally, most physicians have focused solely on treating the cardiaovascular symptoms of dysautonomia. Cardiac medications such as vasoconstrictors can be effective at regulating blood pressure and heart rate. But while they help address specific cardiac symptoms, they do not treat the underlying condition of dysautonomia.
As a result, cardiac medications do not help alleviate the many other symptoms of dysautonomia including fatigue, poor sleep, and thermal intolerance. In fact, side effects from cardiac medications can sometimes make these symptoms worse.
Autonomic dysfunction appears progressive. When the ANS can no longer keep the body regulated and in optimal condition, over time damage to various organ systems can occur. For this reason early intervention could be advantageous.
If you are a patient or know someone with dysautonomia or autonomic dysfunction and are interested in more information, please contact us toll free at (844) 247-2728 or (949) 247-8877.