SEARCHING OUT SOLUTIONS.
Dysautonomia SOS empowers people impacted by Dysautonomia. We do this by raising public awareness, connecting patients with local resources, and furthering advancements in research and treatment.
(for more detailed info with links, see our website at www.DysautonomiaSOS.org):
Dysautonomia is an umbrella term used to describe
any condition, disease, or illness cause by a
malfunction or imbalance of the Autonomic Nervous
In this section, find symptoms, a description of the ANS, types of Dysautonomia, and detailed descriptions of ANS testing for the different types of Dysautonomia.
Symptoms of Dysautonomia can include, but are not limited to:
Dizziness, fatigue, fainting, increased heart rate (tachycardia), lowering of heart rate (bradycardia). a variety of digestive and urinary problems, tingling/numbness/pain in the extremities, problems swallowing, chronic pain, fluctuations in blood pressure, shortness of breath, chest pain, sleep disturbances, cognitive impairment, chills, feelings of anxiety, and headaches.
Many patients have symptoms that come and go, are seemingly unrelated, and change over time. This makes dysautonomia very hard to diagnose.
Primary forms of Dysautonomia are not caused by another disease. Secondary Dysautonomia can occur as a result of another disease or condition; such as Diabetes, Autoimmune diseases, Parkinson’s, and even Alcoholism. Sometimes once the underlying condition is treated, the Dysautonomia symptoms improve. Some forms are of Dysautonomia are temporary and mild, and some forms are progressive and fatal. Dysautonomia currently has no cure. Patients deal with fluctuating symptoms, and treatment involves trying to improve and control these symptoms, both with lifestyle changes and sometimes medications.
The Autonomic Nervous System is made up of two main branches; the Sympathetic and the Parasympathetic. They control the automatic functions of the body that we do not consciously think about - including digestion, heart rate, respiration, organ function, and blood pressure. They also control how our bodies respond to outside stimuli such as stress, gravity, and temperature.
The Sympathetic Nervous System is responsible for the “fight or flight” responses and functions of the body. Some of these include dilation of the pupils, increased heart rate, slowing digestion, and stimulation of the adrenal glands (producing adrenaline).
The Parasympathetic Nervous System is the “rest and digest” portion of the ANS. It stimulates digestion, slows heart rate, and constricts pupils (among other things) that help the body calm itself. In people without dysautonomia, it acts to perfectly balance out the Sympathetic Nervous System.
Types of Dysautonomia:
There many conditions and diseases that are recognized as forms of Dysautonomia. Some of them are:
Autonomic Nervous System Testing:
If you or someone you know suspects they may have dysautonomia, there are a number of tests that can be performed by a physician experienced in autonomic dysfunction. Usually these include Neurologists and Cardiologists; specifically Electrophysiologists (EP), a type of cardiologist that specializes in the electrical signals and functions of the heart.
Specific autonomic tests performed may include:
Basic cardiac testing should also be performed to rule out other serious cardiac conditions or stuructural abnormalities, including an echocardiogram (ECC), an electrocradriogram (EKG/ECG), a 24 hour or continuous halter monitor, and possibly an MRI of the heart.
1. Dysautonomias: Clinical Disorders of the Autonomic Nervous System, Moderator: David S. Goldstein, MD, PhD; Discussants: David Robertson, MD; Murray Esler, MD; Stephen E. Straus, MD; and Graeme Eisenhofer, PhD. Ann Intern Med. 2002;137:753-763.
2. The Cleveland Clinic: Dysautonomia
3. NIH: Medline Plus, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
4. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations, Chapter 75: An Overview of the Autonomic Nervous System. 3rd edition. Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW, editors. Boston:
5. The Vanderbilt Autonomic Dysfunction Center
6. Autonomic nervous system function. Low PA. J Clin Neurophysiol. 1993 Jan;10(1):14-27.
7. The Mayo Clinic Autonomic Nerve Disorder Department
8. Clinical Disorders of the Autonomic Nervous System Associated With Orthostatic Intolerance: An Overview of Classification, Clinical Evaluation and Management. Blair P. Grubb, M.D., Barry Karas, M.D., Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, The Medical College of Ohio, Toledo, Ohio USA
9. Quantitative autonomic testing. Novak P. J Vis Exp. 2011 Jul 19;(53).
10. Autonomic Disorders Consortium, The Rare Disease Network, National Institutes of Health
11. Autonomic testing: common techniques and clinical applications. Weimer LH. Neurologist. 2010 Jul;16(4):215-22.
12. Autonomic diseases: clinical features and laboratory evaluation. C. Mathias, J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2003 September; 74(Suppl 3): iii31–iii41.
13. Dysautonomia: perioperative implications. Mustafa HI, Fessel JP, Barwise J, Shannon JR, Raj SR, Diedrich A, Biaggioni I, Robertson D., Anesthesiology. 2012 Jan;116(1):205-15.