What is Dysautonomia?

Dysautonomia [dis-aw-tuh-noh-mee-uh] 

Also called autonomic dysfunction, is an umbrella term used to describe disorders that affect the autonomic nervous system. ¹ The autonomic nervous system (ANS) controls the body’s involuntary, automatic functions like heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, temperature regulation, and pupil response. ² Dysautonomia happens when the nerves in the ANS either don’t function or communicate well, leading to a variety of symptoms. Autonomic failure occurs when the nerves are damaged or not working at all. ³


While dysautonomia is not rare, it is not fully understood or commonly known in the medical community and beyond.

Overall, it is estimated that dysautonomia impacts around 70 million people worldwide.

Some dysautonomias are rare, while others are much more common. Dysautonomia can occur alone, known as a primary condition, or as a result of another disease, known as a secondary condition. It can impact men and women equally.

However, some forms like postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) appear to impact more females than males.  

Untitled design - 2022-02-03T130311.728


Some dysautonomias can occur suddenly, while others develop more gradually.   Each form can be caused or triggered by different conditions, diseases, injuries, or disorders.

Causes or triggers of dysautonomia may include:

Untitled design - 2021-10-26T160122.400

  Autoimmune Conditions

  Deconditioning/ Prolonged Bed Rest


  Connective Tissue Disorders

  Endocrine/Metabolic Disorders

  Genetic Conditions



  Nutritional Deficiencies


  Parkinson’s Disease



For some individuals, if they are able to eventually determine the cause and obtain successful treatment and symptom management, then the symptoms of dysautonomia can improve. ¹⁰

Other individuals may not be able to determine the cause of their autonomic dysfunction, or they might have several potential triggers or causes. Regardless of the cause or trigger, dysautonomia symptoms can be managed to help the individual live the best possible life they can. ¹¹

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for dysautonomia.

Reviewed by Medical Content Experts, 2021

Scroll to Top