Sunday, 27 February 2011

Signs and Symptoms of Autonomic Dysfunction

An interesting, if long – but this merely reflects the number and complexity of symptoms we suffer – list of signs and symptoms of Autonomic Dysfunction (a.k.a. Dysautonomia). If you read through them, you’ll recognise many that you probably associate with your fibromyalgia, ME/CFS and even IBS, multiple chemical sensitivity and other related and overlapping conditions.

For my own purposes, I’ve stuck through the very few symptoms that I don’t get on this list. Honestly, seeing them all listed like this, even I don’t know how we manage to put up with them and function on any level at all.

Some of the listed symptoms are always present while others occur when a person with Autonomic Dysfunction has been standing or sitting too long:

-Vertigo (room spinning or the sensation of spinning)
-Feeling faint (pre-syncope)
-Fainting (syncope)
-Chest pain or pressure
-Excessive fatigue
-Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
-Stomach pain
-Intestinal cramping
-Exercise Intolerance: becoming short of breath on mild exertion,
having chest pain or palpitations on mild exertion. Having excessive
heart rate during or immediately after exercise. Leg cramps or
numbness of arms and legs during or after mild exercise.
-Visible pooling in arms and legs: Deep purple-red colour in fingers
and toes.
-White appearance of fingers. Some present with white patches of skin
on arms and legs.
-Extremely cold hands and feet.
-Numbness of hands and feet.
-Muscle weakness
-Muscle and joint pain
-Tremors or mild shaking of hands
-Frequent headaches or migraine headaches
-Irritability due to decreased blood flow to the brain
-Feeling anxious/Having panic attacks due to increased production of
-Mood changes
-Inability to concentrate or remember (frequently referred to
as "brain fog")
-Inability to tolerate changes in temperature
-Decreased sweating or excessive sweating
-Abnormal deep tendon reflexes may or may not be present.
-Basic neurological exam is normal.
-Intelligence normal when receiving adequate cerebral perfusion.

Less frequently recognized signs and symptoms:
-Disruption of sleep/wake cycle usually consisting of increased
energy late in the evening and lowest energy level in the morning
regardless of amount or quality of sleep.
-Central sleep apnea
-Need to sleep 12-14 hours in order to complete simple activities of
daily living.
-Anoxic or convulsive seizures that are not epileptic.
-Frequent need to urinate at night.
-Upon standing feels head is "heavy". This resolves with lying down
or with walking around.
-Decrease in (or absence of) lubricating tears in the eye.
-Sensitivity to bright, florescent light and bright sunlight. Many patients report feeling pre-syncopal in large grocery stores and department stores that use excessive florescent lighting. Flashing lights and multi-coloured lighting can also produce symptoms.
-Visual distortion: Television screens and computer screens can appear distorted, especially post-syncopal or pre-syncopal episode. Flat screens are recommended.
-Distorted depth perception resulting in a feeling of unsteadiness. Often appears to be "clumsy" or excessively cautious when climbing stairs, reaching for an object, etc.
-Other visual disturbances include a greying out or blacking out of the visual field; either partially or completely.
-Decreased awareness of what is in the peripheral visual field. This often causes the patient to startle because they did not perceive anyone or anything next to them.
-Frequent "bumping into things". Attributed to a combination of visual and depth perception deficits.
-Noise sensitivity. Loud or beating sounds can cause pre-syncopal episodes. Difficulty filtering out sounds. Easily distracted by sounds.
-Sensitivity to odours, even pleasant smelling chemicals such as perfume. Odours such as cleaning products, gasoline, strong foods, etc. may cause extreme nausea, retching, vomiting, dizziness and headache.
-Decrease production of saliva or excessive production of saliva.
-Severe constipation and decreased gut motility.
-Weight gain regardless of diet modifications.
-Overall slowing of metabolism is common.
-Increased metabolism (rare)
-Excessive gut motility leading to chronic diarrhoea and weight loss.
(less common)
-Sensitivity to touch. Mild pat on the arm or squeeze of the hand can cause excruciating pain especially right after an episode or if the patient has not had enough sleep.
-Decrease sensitivity to pain/touch in certain areas. If standing or sitting too long causes hands and feet to turn cold and blue, patient will have decreased sensation in these areas due to poor blood flow.
-Taste and appetite changes. Fruits and other acidic foods may taste extremely acidic. Foods may taste differently if patient is tired, stressed, or post-syncopal episode.
-Hair loss due to decreased blood supply to hair follicles.
-Speech disturbances: Inability to finish an expressed thought, loss of train of thought, "spoonerisms", especially if up and about for 2 hours or more without lying flat and resting.
-Comprehension difficulties. Inability to follow a conversation. May hear words but is unable to understand their context in the sentence. Cannot focus on more than one activity at a time. May not realize they are being addressed. Losses conversation focus when topic is changed. Is easily distracted from the conversation focus by any environmental stimuli.
-Memory recall deficits in long and short term memory. Improves with lying down and resting.
-Abdominal migraines. Severe stomach pain triggered by large meal or by sitting or standing too long. Usually resolves if patient lies quietly.
-Drifting to the right or left when walking. Most commonly patients report drifting to the left. Many patients report always fainting to the left as well. Appears to be unrelated to hand-dominance, but further research is needed.
-Tend to have mild symptoms of Ehlers-Danlos, but do not necessarily
test positive for the disease. This includes hypermobile joints, double joints, and soft, velvet-like skin that has little or no texture.
-Often has another auto-immune disorder.
-Family History of auto-immune disorder or symptoms that resemble
autonomic dysfunction.
-Appears to have more viral illnesses than general population. Often
diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome.

(Via: Signs and Symptoms of Autonomic Dysfunction)

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Brain shakes

At one point during the night, I was lying with my eyes closed and could feel, very markedly, every pulsation, in time with my heart beat, running up through my neck and head.

You know the images you see when your eyes are closed, well those were “jumping” in time with the pulsations, just like the picture of an old analogue TV, when the horizontal and/or vertical hold went squiffy.

In addition, I felt dizzy and nauseous. You know the sort of dizzy and nauseous that you normally lie down to escape from … except, of course, I was already lying down, so there was no means of escape from it until I, eventually, fell asleep again. It was all this and this, without the drugs.

This morning I woke with a stabbing headache and felt sick and shaky as soon as I moved. I have sensations of “brain shakes” often, but never quite this bad.