Dysautonomia or Autonomic Dysfunction: Types, Signs, Causes, Treatment, Prognosis

Normal Heart Beats

Dysautonomia also termed as Autonomic Dysfunction is a breakdown of the autonomic nervous system. Autonomic nervous system performs various vital functions some of which include control of heart rate, BP, sweating, etc. A disorder of the autonomic nervous system can affect any of these things.

Types of Dysautonomia or Autonomic Dysfunction

  • POTS syndrome
  • Tachycardia.
  • Fainting and dizziness.
  • Autonomic breakdown.
  • Neurocardiogenic syncope.
  • Orthostatic hypotension

This disorder can also occur due to various other disorders like diabetes mellitus, multisystem atrophy, and other disorders involving the nervous system.

Signs and Symptoms of Dysautonomia or Autonomic Dysfunction

There are a wide variety of symptoms of dysautonomia and they vary from one individual to another. In dysautonomia, the quality of life of a person is severely affected. Some people with dysautonomia are affected only mildly whereas there are others who become severely disabled by this disease.


The Major Symptoms of Dysautonomia or Autonomic Dysfunction

    • Severe fatigue
    • Increased thirst
    • Dizziness or Vertigo
    • Anxiety or panic attacks
    • Tachycardia or bradycardia.
    • Orthostatic low blood pressure
    • Facial flushing
    • Headaches

Rapid Heart Beats

Causes of Dysautonomia or Autonomic Dysfunction

It is not fully clear as to how dysautonomia is caused, although as stated above some of the factors include

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Lyme Disease
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Brain trauma
  • Multisystem atrophy
  • Injury to the spinal cord

Treatment of Dysautonomia or Autonomic Dysfunction

To control the cardiac symptoms, a procedure can be performed termed as the cardiac ablation procedure, which abates the cardiac symptoms altogether. Long-term medication use is also suggested for stabilization of the condition. Drugs such as Xanax can be used to control symptoms of anxiety. There are many instances where the treatment of dysautonomia is supportive. To control the orthostatic symptoms such as dizziness and vertigo symptoms drugs like midodrine are helpful. It is usually tough to treat dysautonomia and usually it requires multidrug therapies.

Prognosis for Dysautonomia or Autonomic Dysfunction

The prognosis of people suffering from dysautonomia is varied depending on what form of the disease an individual has. There are some forms which abate over time and do not affect the life expectancy, but leaves the person quite disabled. Whereas, there are other forms of dysautonomia, which are progressive with degeneration of the central nervous where the prognosis is quite poor with death resulting from respiratory failure or sudden cardiac arrest.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 15, 2018

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