How Are Dysautonomias Treated?

posted in: Support & Recovery | 0




Dysautonomia disorders can be horrible to endure. Characterized by some very challenging symptoms ranging from nausea, problems with breathing, balance, speech and even eyesight, it is clear how these disorders can make daily living extremely difficult. Unfortunately, for the majority of dysautonomia disorders, there is no cure. Even more, there is such a broad array of types of dysautonomia and the symptoms involved in each one vary that there is also no universal treatment for dysautonomia. However, there are ways that the symptoms of different types of dysautonomia can be treated to improve quality of life. A number of ways to manage the symptoms of the more well-known dysautonomias described on our other page {What are the different types of dysautonomias} are outlined below:

Neurocardiogenic syncope




Neurocardiogenic syncope or NCS is primarily characterized by fainting. There is no cure for this. Therefore, the aim in treating this type of dysautonomia is to prevent fainting. In more serious cases, medications such as fludrocortisone, SSRI’s, beta blockers, midodrine and disopyramide can be used to prevent the fainting. However, in less serious cases or as an addition to medications, there are a number of other ways that you can try to prevent fainting. These include ensuring a high level of fluid and salt intake, taking shorter and cooler showers, avoiding alcohol and reducing caffeine, and avoiding standing for long periods of time. If you have to, shift from foot to foot or flex your legs. This helps pump the blood back towards your upper body and brain.

Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)




POTS encompasses a number of different symptoms including problems with breathing, fainting, nausea, and issues with fatigue and the heart.  Due to this large range of symptoms, finding the correct medication without too many side effects can very difficult. Many sources suggest that someone can get the best benefits through lifestyle changes and natural remedies opposed to prescription medications. However, some success has been achieved with benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety medications), beta-blockers (reduces heart rate), clonidine (controls blood pressure) and erythropoietin (impacts red blood cells) among others. This site provides a more comprehensive list of prescription medications used for this disorder. In terms of natural remedies, research has shown that regular exercise, increased fluid intake, tensing leg muscles when standing and wearing compression stockings can help manage the symptoms of POTS.

Diabetic Autonomic neuropathy

As this type of dysautonomia is generally associated with diabetes, the treatment for this tends to focus on managing diabetes well. However, there are also a number of ways that specific symptoms can be managed. The list below outlines some of these:

  1. Stomach problems can be managed through increasing fiber intake and taking medications for diarrhea, constipation, and pain.
  2. Heart problems can be eased through increasing salt and fluids in your diet, taking medications for blood pressure and to regulate heart rate.
  3. Sexual problems can be assisted through arousal medications, lubricant or tools to help gain and maintain erections (such as pumps).
  4. Urinary problems can be addressed through catheterization, medications and retraining the bladder by following a toilet schedule.

Multiple System Atrophy (MSA)




Sadly, this type of dysautonomia is characterized by the breakdown of sections in the brain and no treatment can undo or stop this degradation. However, although difficult, some of the relating symptoms can be treated. Many of the prescription medications mentioned above can be used to manage the urinary, digestive, sexual and heart problems of MSA.  In some cases, surgery has also been utilized to prevent problems with blood pressure by implementing a pacemaker. However, it is still debated if this actually provides any benefit or not. Similar to the other types of dysautonomia, there are also some lifestyle changes such as increasing fiber and fluids in the diet, speech therapy, regular physical exercise, and physiotherapy. These lifestyle changes have proven successful in managing many of the symptoms.

Familial dysautonomia

This is one of the most severe and complicated forms of dysautonomia. Sadly, similar to MSA, there is no cure. Due to the wide variety of symptoms and how they can present differently at different stages in the person’s life, an individualized treatment plan addressing the symptoms will need to be created by a team of specialists. Similar to the other types of dysautonomia, treatment will involve the management of symptoms to allow improved quality of life. Treatments may consist of prescription medications, physical and emotional therapy and lifestyle changes.

There is such a large list of different types of dysautonomia, so only the most well-known have been discussed here. For further information on the treatment of dysautonomia, please see the links below.


Treatments for POTS Syndrome