Autonomic Dysfunction

Autonomic Dysfunction

WHAT IS AUTONOMIC DYSFUNCTION?

  • Autonomic dysfunction is a physical illness in which the autonomic (automatic) nervous system isn’t working correctly.
  • Autonomic dysfunction was discovered in 1993 in adults & 1999 in teens. Due to it’s relatively “new” nature in the medical community, it is still not fully understood.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

  • The autonomic nervous system automatically regulates several body functions including: heart rate, blood flow, digestion, skin temperature, breathing, & adrenal system.
  • With autonomic dysfunction, several (or all) of these body functions are out-of-whack.
  • Common symptoms include: dizziness, brain fog, syncope, pallor, fatigue, stomach pain/nausea/diarrhea, vision changes, increased heart rate, fainting, headaches, feeling hot or cold, sweating (lots), chest pain, weakness in legs, color changes in legs, and mood changes.

STATISTICALLY, WHO ARE AUTONOMIC DYSFUNCTION PATIENTS?

  • 2/3 girls & 1/3 boys
  • Usually after an illness or injury
  • Caucasian
  • High achievers/perfectionists
  • Flexible or double-jointed (many also have Ehlers-Danlors Syndrome or EDS)
  • Many teens outgrow autonomic dysfunction by their late teens or early twenties.

MAIN PROBLEM – BLOOD FLOW & VESSELS ARE BROKEN/IMPAIRED

  • Signals telling your blood vessels to loosen & contract aren’t doing their jobs.
  • Blood pools in different parts of your body & circulation slows down.
  • Causes the symptoms outlined above.

HOW DO WE GET BLOOD FLOWING AGAIN & HELP SYMPTOMS?

“STEPS”

  • Salt
  • Take in Fluids
  • Exercise
  • Prescription Medications
  • Sleep

Eat salt & take in fluids – Add as much salt as you can to everything & drink 2-4 liters of fluids per day (2 liters of which need to be water).  Two liters = 64 oz or 8 cups.  Avoid caffeine & alcohol as they can be dehydrating.  The extra salt & fluids help keep your blood volume up.  

Exercise – 30 min breathy & sweaty cardio plus 30 minutes other activity EVERY DAY.  The exercise is KEY because it gets blood flowing by squeezing blood vessels & improving circulation. Exercise should be increased gradually toward this goal.  The benefits of daily exercise are:

  • Increased energy & stamina
  • Retrains muscles to improve blood flow
  • Decreases pain & fatigue
  • Revs up heart to improve circulation
  • Helps you sleep better at end of day
  • Body releases endorphins (”happy hormones”)

Cardio exercise is the absolute key to recovery.  IF YOU DON’T PUSH IT, YOU’LL NEVER GET PAST IT.  If you made a pyramid diagram of the important parts of this protocol, exercise would be the base, then salt/fluids, then medication.

Sleep

  • 8.5-9.5 hours per night
  • Keep same sleep/wake hours every day and don’t vary sleep/wake times by more than 1 hour on weekends
  • No naps
  • Have bedtime routine & winding down time
  • No screens 30 min before bed

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