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What is the Autonomic Nervous System?

autonomicWhether you’ve been diagnosed with POTS or are still searching for a diagnosis, you’ve probably run across a few mentions of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). You might be wondering what that is, too. Most people learned about the nervous system in health class in middle or high school, but it’s likely you’ve never heard anything about this part of the nervous system before now.

The autonomic nervous system regulates body processes that happen automatically, like breathing and heart rate. The autonomic nervous system has two parts, sympathetic and parasympathetic, which can work in opposite ways on the same part of the body. It is the part of the nervous system that supplies the internal organs, including the blood vessels, stomach, intestine, liver, kidneys, bladder, genitals, lungs, pupils, heart, and sweat, salivary, and digestive glands.

In many cases, what the sympathetic part of the ANS does, the parasympathetic part can undo. For example, the parasympathetic ANS can slow your heartbeat down, while the sympathetic ANS will cause it to speed up. The parasympathetic ANS is in charge of the body’sday-to-day functions, while the sympathetic ANS takes control for fight-or-flight operations.

It’s not hard to see where this is going if you’ve been diagnosed with POTS. When these two systems aren’t operating correctly, you get fight-or-flight kinds of responses mixed in with daily operations, and its chaos. Imagine if different military regimens were out running training exercises together, and one of them suddenly decided they were actually at war.

That’s what is happening in your body when the ANS not functioning correctly.

The POTS and Dysautonomia Treatment Center offers patients collaborative, alternative care aimed at treating the whole person, not just the disorder. Our team consists of a psychophysiologist, an internal medicine doctor, clinical health psychologist, and a registered dietitian who work with you to provide compassionate care through a full range of services.

Our treatment options include onsite intensives in Dallas, as well as online options you can complete anywhere. Are you ready to take control of your symptoms? Read more about our treatment options.