The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is responsible for regulating body processes that happen outside of our control. Dysautonomia is a condition that affects the ANS, causing symptoms like lightheadedness, nausea, heart racing, and fainting. Are you in danger of developing dysautonomia?
The autonomic nervous system manages our body’s automatic functions, such as the beating of our hearts and the digestion of food. However, when this system fails to function properly, it can cause a number of health problems.
Dysautonomia is an umbrella term for conditions like multiple sclerosis or POTS.
And understanding your autonomic nervous system will provide you with the knowledge to live your best life with an autoimmune disease.
Multiple Sclerosis is a demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS)which removes proteins from the axons and myelin sheath layer of the brain and spinal cord. Once these proteins are missing, they can no longer send messages to and from the brain and body. The loss of these messages may be due to damage to the myelin sheath.
The fragile myelin sheath is the protective layer for our vital nerves. There are two types of autonomic nerves.
Autonomic Nervous System
According to Osteopathic Neurology, neuropathy may occur due to a malfunction of the vagus nerve in the brainstem. The vagus nerve is one of the 4 main sensory branches. It is present in the armpit, neck, and upper spine.
Chiefly, the vagus nerve helps regulate body functions like digestion, heart rate, and body temperature. Dysautonomia may also result in vision problems due to inflammkation of the optic nerve.
The second type of autonomic nervous system consists of the sympathetic nervous system. This system is responsible for the fight or flight response associated with physical stress. Its main function is to increase blood pressure and our heartbeat.
If the immune system is suppressing the vagus nerve, this can cause cardiac disturbances. Patients with POTS may experience chest tightness, shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, or lightheadedness.
However, it’s important to remember that all of these symptoms may occur without any medical cause. It’s important to take these symptoms seriously and visit your doctor for possible diagnosis and treatment if needed.
The heart produces around 60% of our oxygen and blood volume. Therefore, if the vagus nerve is damaged, this can result in cardiac dysfunction. As the heart no longer has the ability to pump blood effectively.
An electrocardiogram (ECG) can help detect heart rhythm abnormalities. However, detecting heart rhythm abnormalities can be challenging because your heart doesn’t beat like an ordinary electrical circuit.
Heart Health & the Autonomic Nervous System
In fact, in most cases, heart rhythm abnormalities are misdiagnosed as atrial fibrillation (ABF).
The cortex, located in the middle of the brain, is responsible for coordinating all bodily functions. This includes the organs and body functions. The feeling you get when you turn on your main light switch, for example. It’s called the parasympathetic nervous system.
The parasympathetic nervous system allows the body to maintain a constant state of balance. And it is thought to be the more primitive part of the nervous system.
Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of MS can include numbness, weakness, or loss of balance. It can also cause vision problems, hearing loss, speech and swallowing problems. And if left untreated, can lead to hearing loss, stroke, and death.
Everyone is different, but an inherited predisposition to the condition can increase the risk of developing MS. The most common type of inherited predisposition is gene 1, a disorder that causes the body’s immune system to attack the nervous system.
Studies have found evidence of an association between the second leading cause of death among Americans, heart disease, and the number of copies of the gene 1. This means people carrying only one copy of the gene 1 could be at increased risk of developing heart disease.
Because there is no cure or proven treatment for the condition, people with an inherited predisposition to developing MS are left with many debilitating symptoms.
Predisposition to MS
To see if you have an inherited predisposition to developing MS, take a genetic test.
Several lifestyle symptoms/features have been associated with medication overuse and the development of MS.
Evidence shows that women with MS use medication to manage symptoms of the disease a greater amount than men.
The Journal of the American Academy of Neurology detailed a study on the gender reversal of progressive aphasia. People who self-medicate to ease symptoms of MS have significantly more severe symptoms than those who do not, even if both groups have the same symptom severity.
However, an analysis of over 15,000 patients with MS found patients who self-medicate are 8 times more likely to experience relapse compared to those who do not.
People with MS
A study published in Metabolic Bone Disease reviewed over 500 brain scans from people with MS and compared them to scans from people without MS. The study found people with MS are three to six times more likely to have structural damage to the cerebrovascular system — a system of channels that receive and send blood flow to the brain.
People with MS display a decreased density of neurons and glial cells compared to people without MS. This damage leads to problems with blood flow to the brain, which may increase the risk of stroke and seizures.
The dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (Analysis-5000) scan picks up subtle but real differences in the geometry of the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF).
That’s characterized by structural and functional changes in the brain and spinal cord. It’s estimated that one in twenty Americans may have MS.
An autoimmune disorder, MS occurs when the immune system attacks the body’s own tissue.
Researchers are now slowly uncovering the precise mechanism of how and why this happens.
These attacks can target the brain and the spinal cord, and cause relapses called remissions.
Cerebellar ataxia, sometimes called cerebral palsy, is a condition characterized by movement problems in the arms, legs, trunk, and other parts of the body. Cerebellar ataxia is caused by the Spinal Atrophy Triad. Astrocyte cells in the cerebellum and surrounding brain tissue die, causing progressive loss of function, including involuntary muscle contraction and muscle twitching.
To date, there is no cure for Cerebellar Ataxia.
Autonomic Nervous System Disorder
However, Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease caused by the death of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra lata – a region of the brain stem responsible for coordinating movement. The death of the dopamine neurons can impact motor coordination and can even result in hallucinations.
An autoimmune disorder, Multiple Sclerosis is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects the dopaminergic neurons.
But, these neurons are responsible for receiving signals from the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and sending them on to target areas of the brain. Damage to the dopamine neurons can result in feelings of tremor, slowness of movement, and diminished responsiveness to touch and temperature.
One way in which people can be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease is the tremor caused by shaking or stooped posture. Other symptoms of Parkinson’s include tremors, deep sleep, and paralysis.
Tamoxifen, also known as mometasone and ranitaphan hydrochloride, is a herbal medication designed to stimulate the immune system.
It’s used to treat infections, including acne, to slow disease progression and to improve symptoms like skin inflammation.
It is thought to slow the progression of MS by competing with the immune system against harmful substances such as Beta-amyloid plaques (protein deposits that are normally shed during terms of the disease) present in the brain.
Beta-amyloid plaques are thought to be a significant cause of the disability resulting from MS, and as a result, mometasone also reduces activity in the immune system.