What is dysautonomia?

Briefly, dysautonomia is the medical term used to describe a malfunctioning autonomic nervous system (ANS). The autonomic nervous system controls "automatic" functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, sweating and others. For an introduction to the ANS, see this page on the Dysautonomia International website. Dysautonomias have many causes, including autoimmune. They are not fully understood. Sjogren’s patients are especially prone to dysautonomia, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. 

Cardiovascular dysautonomias 

These impact heart rate and blood pressure. They often cause fatigue, along with many other symptoms. They are sometimes debilitating. There are many types; postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is probably the most common.

Finding a doctor who understands dysautonomia 

This can be difficult. If you are seeking care from a neurologist, cardiologist, or other doctor about possible or known dysautonomia, ask if they treat dysautonomia patients. If they don't, keep looking!  It can be helpful to ask for referrals from your local patient support group, or check out the list of doctors from Dysautonomia International. 

Patient resources


POTS Standing Test Instructions

(for patients and clinicians)



For clinicians / sharing with your clinician

Good introductory article: Postural Tachycardia syndrome (190).
Excellent description of POTS and POTS diagnosis.  Open Access.


Medications used for POTS: A review of treatments, including doses and strategies. This article is not  Open Access. If you don’t wish to purchase it, you may try a medical library. Or you may copy the abstract and encourage clinicians who care for POTS to order it (191).

Dysautonomia International  Patient and Clinician education materials

The Dysautonomia project- Website and book (Freeman, Goldstein, Thompson, et al) 

Updated 08-15-2022