Identifying Dysautonomia

What is it?

Dysautonomia is not a diagnosis. It is a term used to describe any disorder of the autonomic (automatic) nervous system.

Dysautonomia (Dis-auto-NO-mia) is a general term used to describe any disorder of the autonomic (or automatic nervous) system. These disorders usually involve abnormal symptoms in many organ systems, including cardiac, gastrointestinal, neurological, and pulmonary, as well as others. Dysautonomia, an invisible illness, may be one of the most misdiagnosed medical conditions of all time. The biggest problem in autonomic medicine today is the lack of knowledge about dysautonomia in communities and especially community based healthcare professionals.

Dysautonomias are classified as any kind of dysfunctions of the autonomic nervous systems. The dysfunction can be primary or can be a secondary condition associated with another disease process happening. The autonomic nervous system is the part of the nervous system that regulates functions that happen automatically or that you don’t have to think about like heart rate, BP regulation (especially changing from a supine to a standing posture), digestion, excretion, sweating and temperature regulation, blinking and pupil dilation, brain fog, sensory hypersensitivities and neuropathies. These dysfunctions can be mild, disabling, and/or even life threatening. The most important challenge is to find a local healthcare professional who is educated on dysautonomia or is willing to become educated in order to channel the patient to the right healthcare professional or facility for the best treatment options that are currently available.

There is no cure but underlying conditions need to be diagnosed and the symptoms from the dysautonomias have to be managed.

Types of Dysautonomia

There are at least 15 distinct dysautonomias; the most common are postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and neurocardiogenic syncope.

Fast Facts

  • The effects of dysautonomias may range from lightheadedness to premature death
  • Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and neurocardiogenic syncope are the most common dysautonomias.
  • There are some researchers who believe POTS may be an autoimmune condition
  • Many dysautonomias often go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed

The Mayo Clinic assesses autonomic severity based on six categories called the Compass 31:

  • Orthostatic intolerance
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Vasomotor functioning
  • Secrets motor regulation
  • Bladder function
  • Pupils motor function

Common Coexisting Conditions:

  • Autoimmunity (AAG or autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy)
  • Autoimmune Encephalopathy
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome
  • Sjogrens
  • Celiac Disease
  • Systemic Lupus
  • Erythematosus
  • Paraneoplastic autonomic neuropathy
  • Chronic regional pain syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Ehlers-Danos syndrome
  • Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
  • Small Fiber Neuropathy

6 to 15 Symptom Checker

Top 7 Signs and Symptoms of Dysautonomia

1.

Difficulty Standing Still

2.

Fatigue

3.

Lightheadedness

4.

Nausea and Other GI Symptoms

5.

Brain Fog or Mental Clouding

6.

Palpitations or Chest Discomfort

7.

Shortness of Breath or Difficulty Breathing

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