Dysautonomia is an umbrella term used to describe several different medical conditions that cause a malfunction of the Autonomic Nervous System, the system that controls the “automatic” functions of the body that we do not consciously think about, such as heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, dilation and constriction of the pupils of the eye, kidney function and temperature control.
People living with various forms of dysautonomia have trouble regulating these systems, which can result in lightheadedness, fainting, unstable blood pressure, abnormal heart rates, and malnutrition. To help manage these symptoms, many patients have been advised to increase both fluid and salt intake in order to increase blood volume.* In these instances, Vitassium can help manage the intake of sodium and potassium.
Some forms for dysautonomia include Postural Orthostatic Hypotension (POTS) and Vasovagal Syncope (Neurocardiogenic Syncope).
Dysautonomia is not rare.
More than 70 million people worldwide live with various forms of dysautonomia.
PEOPLE OF ANY AGE, GENDER OR RACE CAN BE IMPACTED.
Maybe. Despite the high prevalence of dysautonomia, most patients take years to get diagnosed due to a lack of awareness amongst the public and within the medical profession.
Dysautonomia can be seen alone. It can also occur secondary to other medical conditions, such as Sjogren’s, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac, Lupus, and Parkinson’s. Additionally, patients who experience dysautonomia may also have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and gastroparesis.
To help manage symptoms, patients are advised to do things like avoid sitting for long periods of time, treat contributing medical conditions and adopt a useful physical therapy routine. Additionally, it is often recommended to increase both fluid and salt intake in order to increase blood volume.*
POTS is estimated to impact 1 out of 100 teenagers and, including adult patients, a total of 1,000,000 to 3,000,000 Americans. The condition can cause lightheadness, fainting, tachycardia, chest pains, shortness of breath, GI upset, shaking, exercise intolerance, temperature sensitivity and more. While POTS predominantly impacts young women who look healthy on the outside, researchers compare the disability seen in POTS to the disability seen in conditions like COPD and congestive heart failure.
A 2021 study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, concluded that a high sodium diet could help reduce common POTS symptoms, including low blood volume, increased standing heart rate and increased norepinephrine (adrenaline) levels.
POTS can be diagnosed using orthostatic vitals (measurements of heart rate and blood pressure taken laying down, and then at a standing position for 2, 5 and 10 minutes) or a Tilt Table Test (TTT), and can be defined as a heart rate increase of 30 beats per minute (bpm) or more, or over 120 bpm, within the first 10 minutes of standing, in the absence of orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure upon standing). In children and adolescents, a revised standard of a 40 bpm or more increase has been adopted.
NCS, also known as vasovagal syncope, is the most common form of dysautonomia, impacting tens of millions of individuals worldwide. Many individuals with NCS have a mild case, with fainting spells once or twice in their lifetime. However, some individuals have severe NCS which results in fainting several times per day, which can lead to falls, broken bones and sometimes traumatic brain injury. Individuals with moderate to severe NCS have difficulty engaging in work, school and social activities due to the frequent fainting attacks. Learn more about dysautonomia from Dysautonomia International.
The Ehlers-Danlos syndromes are a group of connective tissue disorders that can be inherited and are varied both in how affect the body and in their genetic causes. They are generally characterized by joint hypermobility (joints that stretch further than normal), skin hyperextensibility (skin that can be stretched further than normal), and tissue fragility. Learn more about Ehlers Danlos Syndrome from the Ehlers Danlos Society.
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), also referred to as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), is a serious, debilitating, complex chronic disease that affects multiple body systems, including the nervous system, the immune system, and the body's production of energy. ME/CFS can cause orthostatic intolerance in some patients.
*This has been shown to be particularly helpful in patients with blood pooling, hypovolemia, or hypotension. Most individuals with POTS and other forms of dysautonomia are advised by their physicians to consume 2-3 liters of hydrating fluids and 8-10 grams of salt per day. Check with your physician for your specific needs. For more severe cases, pharmacological treatments are also available. For an extensive overview of dysautonomia, its causes, symptoms and treatments, check out this guide from Dysuatonomia International.