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
- 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)