DYSAUTONOMIA IN CHILDREN
Dysautonomia is thought to afflict more than seventy million people worldwide. The disorder is caused by damage to the nerves that control involuntary body functions. These vital functions of which we remain largely unaware include blood pressure, perspiration, heartbeat, gastrointestinal processes and temperature control. They are all managed by the autonomic neural system, which when damaged, disrupts the messages between the brain and the body. The most common cause of damage to this system is diabetes, but it can be caused by viral infections and even by some medications. Better understand this condition, and learn how to care for your child while not overlooking what you need to take care of yourself, even if you need professional support & help.
One in one hundred children is diagnosed with this disorder. More often than not, childhood dysautonomia strikes adolescents. The disorder can be triggered by a growth spurt, or it may follow a viral infection, accident or immunization. Eighty percent of the sufferers are female. For the parents of these children, the diagnosis can be devastating and the family can be left feeling empty and isolated. This can be more serious than we think, according to many experts.
Diagnosis is, however, a step in the right direction since the symptoms are very often invisible. Moreover, children may find it difficult to verbalize their discomfort so frequently the syndrome is not identified.
As a parent of a child that has been diagnosed with this syndrome your child’s future and the required financial resources may cause some anxiety. The best way you can overcome these uncertainties is to arm yourself with information. There are masses of information available on the Internet, but make sure that you don’t get drawn into negative advice. Check all the facts with your doctor.
Symptoms of this disorder include dizziness and fainting, fatigue, body aches and pains, changes in the digestive function, urinary problems, slow pupil reaction, sweating difficulties and exercise intolerance. The symptoms are often unpredictable and can disappear and reappear. In addition, the severity and combination of symptoms can change. Sometimes, triggers can also be identified so that they can be avoided.
Some children have such severe symptoms that they are taken out of the mainstream schooling system and homeschooled. This can lead to social isolation. Hence, parents should approach the school to discuss what steps can be taken to accommodate the child’s condition so that he can return to the classroom.
DEALING WITH THE SYMPTOMS
Medication will be determined by the symptoms experienced by your child. He or she must be educated on the need to diligently take the medication at the correct times every day.
Lifestyle changes are also part of the multi-disciplinary approaches to the management of the condition.
The child with dysautonomia may have problems with energy levels, which may fluctuate from time to time. Daily schedules, which would be normal in other families, may not be possible in yours. Be flexible and ready to change the schedules to meet the circumstances.
Every day, viruses can pose a significant hazard to your child. Take precautions to prevent exposure.
Moreover, your child will also benefit from exercise, as it will help him/her to recondition the body. This is very necessary for the reduction of symptoms. Exercise is, however, very uncomfortable for people with this condition, so encouragement is required. The most comfortable exercise will be low-intensity yoga, rowing or swimming.
SUPPORT FOR THE FAMILY
Although Dysautonomia can be established medically, to the outsider, the sufferer often appears to be healthy. People can be overly critical and may suspect that the child is playing and that the parents are over-indulgent.
Ensure that friends and family are informed of the diagnosis. Not only will they be more understanding, but they can also provide invaluable support for the family.
Illness in a child can also take its toll on relationships. Your doctor can assist you with details on where to get serious chronic illness therapy for the whole family.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Parents who are faced with chronic illness in their child often suffer an enormous amount of guilt and sadness. Caring friends and family can help you to overcome this. As caregivers parents need to ensure that they look after themselves both physically and psychologically. The symptoms of Dysautonomia normally dissipate with time. According to statistics, eighty percent of those that receive medical treatment and adhere to lifestyle changes will recover or experience significant improvements by the time they reach their early twenties.