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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 & WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

  • 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, depression and/or anxiety, and mood changes.

 

STATISTICALLY, WHO ARE AUTONOMIC DYSFUNCTION PATIENTS?

  • 1% of adolescents have POTS
  • 2/3 girls & 1/3 boys
  • Usually after an illness or injury
  • Caucasian
  • Often 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.
  • Digestive system impaired.
  • Causes the symptoms outlined above.

 

HOW IS POTS DIAGNOSED?

  • Diagnosis is based on finding excessive postural tachycardia (more than 40 beats per minute increase in pulse when switching from resting lying down to standing still upright for a few minutes) in an individual with the symptoms outlined above.
  • Tilt table testing is more reliable than exam room testing of orthostatic vital signs.

(Source: Mayo Clinic Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation Center)