Dysautonomia patients often have one or more related conditions. Sometimes the link between diseases is clear. Other times, there is no definite link. More research needs to be conducted in each of these areas. Below are some of the most common conditions dysautonomia patients experience.
A genetic disease that affects collagen and proteins in connective tissue, often indicated by joints that move well beyond the normal range, stretchy skin, easy joint dislocation, pain and easy bruising. Besides these indicators, those with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome are often tall and thin, with long arms, legs and fingers.
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is often found in patients with POTS. It is thought this may be because the condition causes blood vessels to be more stretchy, which enables blood pooling in the middle and lower body while standing.
Diagnosis is based on observance of symptoms and severity by how a patient rates with the Beighton Score, a set of nine criteria based on how many parts of the body can be extended beyond the norm.
Describes metabolic disorders that affect cells’ ability to use energy properly. Affected cells can be in a specific group, tissue, organ – or many of these structures. Many types of mitochondrial diseases affect the muscular and nervous systems, including the autonomic nervous system.
In Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS), these special immune cells, normally active during acute allergic reactions, become overactive or work inappropriately. This results in excess amounts of serotonin, histamines, dopamine and other chemicals being released into the body, which can cause flushing of the skin, brain fog, fatigue, wheezing, orthostatic intolerance, syncope, itching and gastrointestinal distress.
MCAS is often diagnosed along with POTS and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, though the reason for this is not known. However, MCAS can produce symptoms similar to POTS when POTS is not actually be present.
Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue found in the uterine lining also grows on other structures in the body, including the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, bladder, etc.
The exact link between endometriosis and dysautonomia is still unknown. However, a 2012 study conducted by the Division of Medicine at Vanderbilt University found an incidence of endometriosis in 20 percent of POTS patients studied – 15 percent more than in the control group. The study also found increased incidence of uterine fibroids, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, ovarian cysts and other gynecological issues often linked with hormone regulation.
This is a condition that causes widespread muscular and joint pain. Many fibromyalgia patients also have autonomic system disturbances and symptoms of dysautonomias. The connection between the two are being researched.
This condition describes the slow emptying of the stomach, due to the the muscles not working correctly during digestion. This can be caused by a failure in the parasympathetic nervous system, over activity in the norandrenergic system, increased adrenaline or other endocrine or neural issues.
Gastroparesis is easily diagnosed by tracking a radioactive substance that is swallowed.
Autoimmune diseases cause the immune system to attack healthy cells. There are more than 80 identified autoimmune diseases, including Addison Disease, Lupus, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
The connection between autoimmune diseases and autonomic disorders is distinct, as cells that are part of autonomic nervous system function can be attacked and damaged, resulting in dysfunction. Researchers is ongoing to find specific links between POTS and other dysautonomias.
Information on this page comes from Principles of Autonomic Medicine by Dr. David Goldstein, MD PhD