Dysautonomia: The Basics
In your body, you have the Central Nervous System and the Peripheral Nervous System. The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is one of two parts of your Peripheral Nervous System. The ANS works to maintain homeostasis in the body.
The ANS has the big job of regulating things such as cardiovascular and respiratory control, body temperature, Digestion and the GI tract top to bottom, urinary and bowel function, metabolic and endocrine processes. Add this in with controlling adaptive “fight or flight” responses to stress, and any bit of disorder is bound to make a big wave in how the body functions.
Think of the ANS as the computer operating system running in the background all the time. Dysautonomia is the dysfunction of the ANS.
Making up the ANS you have 3 parts; the sympathetic, parasympathetic, and the enteric nervous systems.
The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for what we know as “fight or flight” responses in emergencies. The body quickly adapts for a faster heart rate and deeper breathing. Pretty remarkable!
The parasympathetic nervous system controls basal autonomic functions such as breathing (respiration) and heart rate under normal circumstances. Think of the PNS as “rest and digest”. The functions that help restore energy to the body.
The enteric nervous system regulates things such as peristalsis in your digestive tract and secretion glands in your body.