Dysautonomia Syndrome in People with Fibromyalgia
Unfortunately, many fibromyalgia sufferers experience at least one form of dysautonomia syndrome and it can be a very serious problem for them.
What Happens with Dysautonomia Syndrome
Your body is constantly working. It does a long list of amazing things without you even thinking about it consciously. You breathe efficiently even while you’re sound asleep. When your nose itches, you automatically reach up to scratch the itch. Blood flows through your veins effortlessly.
You process food through your body, discard waste, and mount a defense against viruses and other unhealthy intruders. You burp, pass gas, cough, sneeze, and hiccup effortlessly. Your body even maintains body temperature automatically.
Imagine if your body started to malfunction with some of those automatic processes. This is what happens to an estimated 70 million people around the world when they develop Dysautonomia syndrome.
This may look like a long medical term that is difficult to understand, but it’s simply a group of medical conditions that impact the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS).
The ANS allows your body to complete all of those amazing tasks automatically. It’s the reason you’re alive because it controls your blood pressure, breathing rate, and many other functions that you need to regulate in order to live.
It also controls automatic movements that allow you to remain mobile and fully functional in daily life. When parts of this system start to break down or are damaged, you can face serious medical conditions known as Dysautonomias.
Dysautonomia and Fibromyalgia
It’s common for fibromyalgia sufferers to experience at least one form of Dysautonomia syndrome. We know that with fibromyalgia, there is a dysfunction in the ANS. For many with fibromyalgia, it appears as a delayed and inflated response to stressful situations. The fibromyalgia sufferer may go through a stressful situation without releasing the stress hormones that are typically produced automatically.
Once the stressful encounter is over and the sufferer is able to relax, the release of those stress hormones is triggered. The sufferer is flooded with stress hormones and experiences the anxiety and energy that others felt during the stressful situation, only the sufferer experiences it to an extreme degree long after the stress has subsided. This delayed reaction may make it appear that there is no cause for the sudden onset of severe alarm and discomfort.
There are other ways that fibromyalgia patients can suffer from Dysautonomia syndrome. Just as fibromyalgia can produce different symptoms in different people, the forms of Dysautonomia can vary from one person to another.
Symptoms of Dysautonomia
Here are some of the most common Dysautonomia symptoms:
- Sleep interruptions
- Shortness of breath
- Inefficient short-term memory
- Trouble focusing
- Memory lapses
- Extreme reactions to hot or cold weather
- Dysfunctional bowels or bladder
- Abdominal bloating
- Dizziness with or without fainting spells
There are many other possible symptoms that could go on this list, depending on the parts of the autonomic system impacted by the Dysautonomia. For instance, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) can lead to dizziness, nausea, and even fainting when you try to stand up. It’s caused by dysfunction in regulation of the heart rate when you go from sitting to standing position, and it’s a common form of Dysautonomia for fibromyalgia sufferers.
In some cases, problems with the autonomic system can lead to death. This may occur when the condition interferes with those essential automatic processes that you need to live, including your heart rhythm. If you think that you may suffer from any form of Dysautonomia, it’s important to seek medical help immediately.
Those of us with MCS also can have a greater propensity to this kind of syndrome in the CNS because of the effect from environmental toxins on the body and the effect on various systems of the body including the immune, endocrine and nervous systems. (Read more here about Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.)