The autonomic nervous system or ANS is a control system that involuntarily regulates the bodily functions such as the heart rate, respiratory rate, urination, papillary response, and sexual arousal. It also controls the fight-or-flight response of the body. The ANS is divided into two branches: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. Both of the systems have opposite actions such as one system activates a physiological response and the other system inhibits it.
Dysautonomia is the general term used for any autonomic nervous system disorders. It is defined as a type of neuropathy or nerve damage, especially affecting the nerves that carry information from the brain and spinal cold to the heart, bladder, intestines, sweat glands and blood vessels. Thought it has many causes it does not mean all of the disorder are neuropathic.
The signs and symptoms of dysautonomia can vary from one person to the other and will depend on what nerves and its functions are affected. The reason why there is an abnormality in functions of the organs, it is due to the inefficient signals sent via both systems. The following are some of the symptoms in individuals with dysautonomia which include:
- Fatigue or weakness
- Orthostatic hypotension – hypotension that is caused by sudden movements, such as standing up from a sitting position.
- Bradycardia or abnormally slow heart rate
- Rapid heart rate
- Unable to concentrate
- Bowel incontinence
- Problems in vision
There are many factors that would contribute to the development of dysautonomia. It can be inherited, or it can be due to an injury in the ANS. However, the most common cause of dysautonomia are the following:
- Parkinson disease – a disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Guillain Barre syndrome
- HIV and AIDS
- Autoimmune diseases
- Chronic alcohol addiction
- Spinal cord injury
- Amyloidosis – is an abnormal protein that is deposited and will build up in the organs
If you think you are suffering from Dysautonomia you should seek medical assistance. You may also be entitled to Social Security Disability Benefits. The SSA considered Dysautonomia as a medical condition that would make you eligible for SSDI and SSI. Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a “Listing of Medical Impairments” (known as the blue book) that automatically qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).