Autonomic Dysfunction In Teens – Common Symptoms Discovered!

Autonomic dysfunction refers to disorders of the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary functions like heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, temperature regulation, and more. In teens, autonomic dysfunction can result from various causes and lead to debilitating symptoms that impact quality of life.

This article will provide an overview of autonomic dysfunction in adolescents, including common symptoms, potential causes, and available treatment options.

Recognizing and properly managing autonomic dysfunction in teens is crucial for supporting their health and development.

What Is Autonomic Dysfunction? Know The Common Symptoms

The autonomic nervous system is comprised of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which work together to regulate involuntary bodily functions. Dysfunction occurs when these systems are damaged or unable to properly maintain homeostasis. 

Autonomic Dysfunction - Know The Common Symptoms

Some common symptoms of autonomic dysfunction in teens include:

? Orthostatic hypotension – a significant drop in blood pressure when standing up, which can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting

? Heart rate abnormalities like tachycardia (fast heart rate), bradycardia (slow heart rate), or arrhythmias 

? Gastroparesis – delayed emptying of the stomach, leading to nausea, vomiting, bloating, and pain

? Abnormal sweating – excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) or lack of sweating (anhidrosis)

? Heat/cold intolerance – inability to tolerate heat or cold environments

? Fatigue and low energy

? Bladder problems like incontinence or retention

? Sexual dysfunction

? Pupil abnormalities 

? Digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, or abdominal pain

Teens may not experience all these symptoms, but even a few that persistently affect daily living warrant medical evaluation for autonomic dysfunction.

What Are The Causes Of Autonomic Dysfunction In Teens?

There are various medical conditions that can contribute to autonomic dysfunction in adolescents, such as:

? Diabetic neuropathy – nerve damage caused by poorly controlled diabetes 

? Autoimmune disorders like lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome, and Guillain-Barre syndrome 

? Mitochondrial diseases which affect cellular energy production

? Spinal cord disorders such as spinal muscular atrophy

? Neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson’s disease 

? Autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy 

? Multiple system atrophy which impacts the brain and nervous system

? Certain genetic disorders like Riley Day syndrome 

? Connective tissue disorders like Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

? Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)

? Injuries or trauma involving the brain, spinal cord, or nerves

? Nervous system infections that cause inflammation 

? Migraines or chronic headaches 

? Side effects of medications like antidepressants, blood pressure drugs, and chemotherapy

Identifying any underlying condition causing autonomic dysfunction is important for proper treatment.

What Are The Treatment Options For Autonomic Dysfunction In Teens?

The goals of treating autonomic dysfunction in teens are to manage symptoms, improve daily functioning, and address any underlying disorder. Some treatment approaches may include:

? Medications like fludrocortisone, midodrine, or pyridostigmine to regulate blood pressure and heart rate

? Beta-blockers or ivabradine to control tachycardia and arrhythmias

? Cholinesterase inhibitors to improve various autonomic symptoms 

? Antibiotics for any nerve-damaging infections

? Immunotherapy drugs for autoimmune conditions

? Avoiding triggers like heat, alcohol, large meals, and prolonged standing

? Increasing fluid and salt intake to manage blood pressure changes

? Compression stockings to prevent blood from pooling in legs

? Physical therapy focusing on muscle strengthening and proprioception

? Getting adequate sleep and managing stress levels

? CBT and biofeedback therapy to help cope with chronic symptoms

? Pacemaker or other devices if symptoms are severe 

Treatment plans will be tailored to each teen’s symptoms and underlying causes. A multidisciplinary approach with input from cardiologists, neurologists, and primary care is ideal.


Autonomic dysfunction in adolescents can significantly disrupt their physical health and quality of life. A thorough evaluation is needed to identify any medical conditions contributing to symptoms. While autonomic disorders can be challenging to manage, various medications, lifestyle changes, therapies, and devices can provide relief.

With an individualized treatment plan and support from family and healthcare providers, teens with autonomic dysfunction can better cope with symptoms and live fuller lives.

Read More:- Adolescent Menstrual Hygiene – Let’s Talk About Menstrual Wellbeing For Teen Girls


Q: What specialists treat autonomic disorders in teens?

A: Pediatric neurologists, cardiologists, gastroenterologists and integrative medicine specialists may be involved in treating teens with autonomic dysfunction. Finding healthcare providers experienced with autonomic disorders is recommended.

Q: Are symptoms of autonomic dysfunction progressive? 

A: This depends on the underlying cause. Some conditions like diabetic neuropathy may progressively damage nerves over time. Others like POTS may have fluctuating symptoms. Proper management can often stabilize or improve symptoms.

Q: Is autonomic dysfunction in teens life-threatening?

A: Severely uncontrolled symptoms like extremely high/low heart rate, dramatic blood pressure drops, and severe arrhythmias can potentially be life-threatening in some cases. However, with proper treatment, symptoms are usually manageable.

Q: Can lifestyle changes help manage teen autonomic dysfunction? 

A: Yes, avoiding triggers like heat, alcohol, and prolonged standing, staying well hydrated, limiting caffeine, getting regular exercise, and managing stress can all help minimize autonomic symptoms for teens.

Q: Are autonomic disorders in teens permanent?

A: Again, it depends on the underlying cause. Some types of autonomic dysfunction are chronic but manageable, while others may be temporary and resolved with treatment of the root issue. Early diagnosis and management are important.

About the Author

Nicole Carter is a dedicated and passionate nutritionist, committed to helping individuals achieve their health and wellness goals through the power of proper nutrition. With a Bachelor's degree in Nutritional Science and years of practical experience.

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