The Autonomic Nervous System & Why It Matters

Please help spread the word about malfunction of the autonomic nervous system and the many chronic conditions it can cause. There is no cure for dysautonomia, it is an invisible illness, and from day to day and person to person the symptoms vary widely as does the severity, so life with any of these illnesses is a roller-coaster, to say the least. Some people are just dizzy all the time and may not even realize that it isn’t normal, and severely affected individuals faint every time they stand or even sit up for a period of time, sometimes just a few seconds.

No one bothered to teach me about the autonomic nervous system. In a perfect world, doctors would explain these things to patients who are experiencing classic symptoms of ANS malfunction, as I am, and they would explain just how involved the ANS is in so many processes throughout the body. Normally, when you are in pain or experiencing stress, your autonomic nervous system ramps up your blood pressure, makes you sweat, and elevates your heart rate. When the pain or stressor is gone, your ANS should quiet right back down again, returning to baseline (and you with it). Yet, the ANS can become part of a long-term issue like chronic pain as well. It can become so agitated that it is constantly hyperactive; constantly on. This can exhaust your body and cause a cascade of other symptoms, some of which may be unexpected such as chronic fatigue, gastroparesis, severe migraines, adrenal fatigue, increased chronic pain, and immune issues.

First, it’s important to understand just how much the autonomic nervous system matters. It is involved in most involuntary actions in the body, such as heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, kidney function, and temperature control. Imagine never being the right temperature; always being too hot or too cold. When I say “too cold” I don’t mean in a mildly uncomfortable way, the way it feels to be out in the cold too long for a regular person, instead it can actually be quite painful and feel like it’s coming from the inside out, stinging and zapping your skin anywhere it touches articles of clothing or a draft hits it. Standing up with dysautonomia is like climbing Mt. Everest on bad days, and the constant headaches and digestive issues get old, fast.

Here is a pretty good overview of what Dysautonomia is, who gets it, what treatments are available, and other useful tidbits of info about ANS malfunction, so you can help spread awareness this month;

WhatIsDysautonomiaInfographic

Image by Rachael Rodriguez.

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About Jessi Finds Out Fibro

Hi, and thank you for finding your way to my corner of the web! I'm on a journey to empower myself and hopefully others through shared courage and compassion. I write Finding Out Fibro, a chronic illness and chronic pain awareness blog that is not just about fibromyalgia, as well as a new project making jewelry under the Etsy name Hopeful Spoon. Please check out the shop and share if you can! Thank you for your support! My other hobbies include defeating ableism anywhere I find it, upcycling old junk into funky awesomeness, raising my voice to erase stigma against invisible illness and mental illness, baking, collecting vintage kitchen ware, sharing body-positive messages, playing around in photoshop, abstract painting (especially in neons and metallics!), advocating for those living with chronic illnesses and mental health challenges, seeking safety and upholding visibility for LGBTQIA individuals living with physical and mental disabilities, researching and testing plant-based remedies for chronic pain, and spending all my spare spoons in my veggie garden. This is my opportunity to do more than just survive with chronic illness. This is me learning how to live well, even though there is no cure for the war my body is waging on me.

8 responses to “The Autonomic Nervous System & Why It Matters”

  1. abodyofhope says :

    Great job on spreading awareness on Dysautonomia today! I really like that poster, too.
    I did a POTS post myself. I guess it’s a good awareness day! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jessi Finds Out Fibro says :

      I’m glad we are all on the same page! 😀

      There simply is not enough awareness about dysautonomia and all the resulting issues. Even every doctor I have brought it up to has to pause and look up “autonomic nervous system” before they feel comfortable talking about it. Crazy. And what oversight on their part. Every chronic illness or pain patient needs to be taught about the autonomic nervous system so they can be less alarmed by all the issues and symptoms that can arise, some of which are just plain terrifying the first few times they happen.
      Yay for awareness! 🙂

      Like

      • abodyofhope says :

        I completely agree with you!
        I just spent the afternoon in the ER and no one new about POTS or Dysautonomia. I am not surprised. But doctors who deal with pain patients and neurologists SHOULD know!
        And like you said, when WE understand, it helps so much.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jessi Finds Out Fibro says :

          Oh no! What sent you to the ER, dear?
          That’s super ironic that you are trying to spread awareness online but your biggest achievement today was probably enlightening an entire hospital as to what Dysautonomia is, and why they should care.
          I really hope you’re doing alright now!
          spoonie hugs, hopefully no more ER in the near future, but if you did need that hospital again, maybe they will be more knowledgeable the next time around after meeting you and hopefully spreading the word to their co-workers.

          Like

          • abodyofhope says :

            Awe, Thank you. It was severe chest pains, but nothing came back wrong fortunately. Just a funky POTS thing… The er is the last place my migraine wants to be, but we made it through.
            Thank you. Hope you have a good wknd. Spoonie Hugs!

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Jessi Finds Out Fibro says :

    Reblogged this on Finding Out Fibro and commented:

    Dysautonomia Awareness Month: October 2015

    Like

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