October is Dysautnomia Awareness Month

 

Over 70 million people worldwide live with some form of dysautonomia. In order to help raise awareness, we wanted to send out an email about what dysautonomia is and how Semmes Murphey Clinic can help patients with this disorder.

What is dysautonomia?

Dysautonomia, or autonomic dysfunction, is a term used when there is a malfunction of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) occurring.

What is the Autonomic Nervous System?

The autonomic nervous system controls the “automatic” functions of the body that you do not think about every day. This includes blood pressure, heart rate, digestion, temperature regulation, and even the size of your pupils. There are two parts of the autonomic nervous system; the sympathetic nervous system: your fight or flight responses, and the parasympathetic nervous system: your rest and digest responses. Both of these parts of the ANS must function correctly, and both must balance each other sufficiently in order for your body to function well.

What does autonomic dysfunction look like?

Often patients present to our clinic with dizziness, lightheadedness, or even fainting due to dysregulation of blood pressure and heart rate. Other symptoms that can present include constipation, gastroparesis, bladder regulation issues, sleep dysregulation, sweating dysregulation, orthostatic intolerance, and fatigue. The autonomic nervous system is involved in so many different organ systems, often patients present with multisystem complaints.

What are the types of autonomic dysfunction?

There are many types of autonomic dysfunction: Neurogenic Orthostatic Hypotension, Autonomic Neuropathy, Neurocardiogenic syncope, Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia, Multiple System Atrophy, Pure Autonomic Failure, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Diabetic Autonomic Neuropathy, Familial Dysautonmia, Baroreflex failure and others. Autonomic dysfunction can be secondary to many other disorders, diseases, and even viral or chemical exposures.

How do we help these patients?

Semmes Murphey has an Autonomic Care Team. In collaboration with our general neurologists, Debbie Turner, DNP, and Kelli Patrick DNP provide autonomic services at Semmes Murphey Clinic to help diagnose and treat autonomic dysfunction. They can help to determine if there is an imbalance or miscommunication happening throughout the autonomic nervous system through starting with a very detailed consultation and history, and then can provide testing such as spectral analysis and head-up tilt table testing to measure how the autonomic nervous system is working. Treatment is aimed at restoring balance to the autonomic nervous system to help decrease symptom burden. Raegan Oliver, MA, and Kandis Childs, MA work alongside these providers to help ensure the best care is provided for these patients.