Symptoms / Impact

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The symptoms of dysautonomia conditions are usually “invisible” to the untrained eye. To the casual observer, the dysautonomia patient can appear to be healthy. The manifestations of the conditions are occurring internally, and although the symptoms are quantifiable and verifiable medically they are not visible on the outside (people cannot see fast heart rates, blood pressure changes, dizziness, migraines, stomach pain etc.).

Symptoms of dysautonomia can be unpredictable, may come and go, appear in any combination, and usually vary in severity (wax and wane). Some symptoms seem to occur in intense phases. Patients often become more symptomatic after a stressor or physical activity (which can lead to chronic avoidance of physical activity contributing to additional decline).

Symptoms can occasionally be severe enough that patients may require consideration for placement in full or part time homebound teaching programs for health impaired students; others will be able to attend school, often with modifications in their educational plans. The social isolation experienced by not being able to attend school or community activities is one of the hardest things for these children to deal with.  It is essential that school systems make every possible effort to help these students remain in school and to keep homebound students connected to their peers.

Since patients afflicted with dysautonomia are usually normal in appearance, it can be a hard condition for laypeople to understand. Even the general physician sometimes misses the clues leading to a proper diagnosis. The symptoms are often difficult for the very young patient to verbalize and the conditions are not always promptly recognized. Traditionally, cardiologists and cardiac electrophysiologists can efficiently diagnose and treat dysautonomia patients. Sometimes neurologists and other specialists get involved as well. Families often find themselves desperately traveling great distances to the few pediatric dysautonomia specialists throughout the country for a proper diagnosis and innovative treatment.

The financial burden placed upon these families is often significant. The emotional toll and initial heartache can be devastating for everyone involved. Such an illness has a rippling effect on the entire family. Chronic illness counseling is often recommended to help the patients and their families deal with the impact of the conditions on their lives.

Symptoms of dysautonomia may include:

Orthostatic Intolerance
(inability to remain upright)
Dizziness
Syncope
(fainting/near fainting)
Tachycardia
(fast heart rate)
Bradycardia
(slow heart rate)
Palpitations
Chest Discomfort
Low Blood Pressure
Lightheadedness
Gastrointestinal Problems
Excessive Fatigue
Exercise Intolerance
Nausea
Visual Disturbances
Weakness

Shortness of Breath
Mood Swings
Anxiety
Vertigo
Migraines
Tremulousness
Noise/light sensitivity
Insomnia
Frequent Urination
Temperature Regulation Problems
Brain fog/forgetfulness
Inability to concentrate
Difficulty with recall
Appetite Disturbance
Hypersensitivity to sensory stimulation

LEARN MORE: Treatment & Prognosis . . .