What is Dysautonomia?

By Dr. Tony Ebel

Sadly far too many teens today are struggling with a multitude of chronic conditions, just like Francesca was. Seizures, insomnia, anxiety, depression, constipation, autoimmune issues, and more. 

Francesca was first diagnosed with absence seizures around age 7 and put on epilepsy medications for the next 7 years. Then when she hit her teenage years and started to experience more stress from school, life, and sleep deprivation, her seizures worsened and eventually became grand mal seizures. 

When Francesca and her amazing mother finally sought a drug-free approach with neurologically-focused chiropractic, they were actually quite excited to learn about the topic of this article – dysautonomia

Dysautonomia refers to a multitude of health conditions that are caused by problems with the autonomic nervous system. Because the autonomic nervous system controls and regulates all the other major systems in the body, the signs, and symptoms (see below) of dysautonomia can be numerous and significant. 

They certainly were for Francesca, who struggled for years with a multitude of challenges before finally finding incredible results and relief with our Neurological Intensive Program, finally getting her life back in full! You can read more about Francesca’s amazing story of transformation here.

The traditional medical definition of dysautonomia keeps it more confined to conditions that have to do with the heart, lungs, and digestive system. But more modern and advanced neuroscience easily shows us that dysautonomia symptoms can also encompass things like: 

  • Mental and Emotional Health Challenges 
  • Immune Suppression and Autoimmune Conditions 
  • Focus and Behavioral Challenges 
  • Chronic Fatigue and Exhaustion 
  • Dizziness, Fainting, and Vertigo 
  • Anxiety and Depression 

What Causes Dysautonomia?

One word – stress. 

We live in a world absolutely overrun by stress, and simply put consistent exposure to stress is the leading cause of dysautonomia. But the story of stress is not just for us adults and parents. Our kids are exposed to more stress, tension, toxicity, and anxiety than ever before. And they are exposed to it earlier than ever before.

I’ve been teaching parents and other practitioners about the serious role that stress and dysautonomia play in our kids’ health as far back as 2008 when I delivered my first-ever Perfect Storm Workshop to a group of mental health professionals and parents. That workshop focuses entirely on the role that prenatal distress, birth trauma, and early exposure to toxins play in leaving our children in a chronic state of dysautonomia.

The presentation goes through exactly what I will here in this article: 

  • What triggers and causes dysautonomia 
  • What symptoms and conditions are caused by dysautonomia
  • How to measure and find out if you or your child have dysautonomia 
  • How to care for and improve dysautonomia without the use of drugs and medications

For our kids, dysautonomia actually sets in early with maternal stress during pregnancy. The very first thing to develop in-utero is the brain and autonomic nervous system. So if our mothers are left in a constant state of distress and anxiety, it greatly increases the likelihood of the infant’s brain and nervous system being shifted toward an imbalanced state as well. 

The next primary trigger of dysautonomia is birth intervention and trauma (forceps, vacuum extraction, induction, C-section, etc). We won’t go into detail here as we do in other articles and videos, but in short, this sort of physically traumatic birth disrupts the function of the brainstem and upper cervical spinal cord regions leading to dysautonomia. 

Those areas are the “air traffic control center” for the autonomic nervous system, and specifically where the Vagus Nerve is located. The brainstem and vagus nerve are responsible for the vast majority of autonomic regulation and control. So when they are stressed and subluxated at birth, dysautonomia sets in right away. Subluxation is a chiropractic term that correlates with dysautonomia and neurological interference.

For an infant, dysautonomia most commonly disrupts their primary functions that are needed for optimal health — eating, sleeping, pooping, and motor development. As a result, the symptoms of dysautonomia in an infant are most commonly diagnosed or labeled as colic, reflux, and constipation.


This is where parents’ frustrations really hit a fever pitch, hearing their pediatrician dismiss their child’s struggles as “normal” and tell them, “Don’t worry. They’ll grow out of it.” 

We’ve seen the exact opposite over the last 15 years. Infants and young children struggling with dysautonomia do not grow out of it. Instead, they grow into speech and motor delays, sensory processing disorder, ADHD, as well as other challenges such as autism spectrum disorder, autoimmune conditions, and chronic gut issues. 

While dysautonomia may feel like chronic pain and fatigue in adults, in kids it’s much more easily missed because so many of their common struggles have been normalized and dismissed. 

That is why it’s typically quite exciting for parents to learn about things such as dysautonomia and subluxation. Because they finally have some answers and an explanation as to why their child struggles each day with such a multitude of symptoms, and now they can work with their PX Doc to formulate a care plan to address the dysautonomia and get their child healing with drugs and medication!

Nearly every single patient we see with autism, ADHD, and anxiety also has a long history of digestive and immune issues as well, with dysautonomia and vagus nerve dysfunction being the common link between them all.

And even better, as parents learn more and more about dysautonomia the more hopeful and excited they get to find natural, drug-free solutions to help care for and improve it!


Traditional medicine will state that there’s usually no cure for dysautonomia which can be very frustrating for parents to hear. Traditional medicine will generally suggest taking medications such as fludrocortisone and midodrine to increase blood pressure.

The good news is there are ways to treat dysautonomia to make symptoms more manageable and improve a child’s balance and function to the autonomic nervous system. Dysautonomia treatment aims to reduce symptoms enough so that a child may be able to strengthen and physically condition their bodies. PX Docs has ways to treat dysautonomia without traditional medicine.

Natural Solutions and Care for Dysautonomia

First, it’s absolutely crucial to not just base things off symptoms as traditional medicine does but to actually test and measure for dysautonomia. 

This is exactly why our PX Docs Network uses an incredible piece of technology called the INSiGHT Neurological Scanning System in their offices. These scans are designed to track, measure, and quantify dysautonomia.

There are three (3) separate scans that are run on each patient for dysautonomia: 

  1. NeuroThermal Scans — using infrared temperature analysis to find and measure dysautonomia 
  2. NeuroSpinal EMG Scans — measures motor and postural function and exhaustion related to dysautonomia. 
  3. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) — measures overall autonomic function, adaptability, and resiliency 

Patients struggling with dysautonomia can find out if their case is mild, moderate, or severe using the INSiGHT Scanning Technology. And even more importantly, these scans allow PX Docs to build a customized, personalized care plan designed to restore function and balance to the autonomic nervous system. 

The HRV scan is by far the most helpful for patients suffering from dysautonomia and is the gold standard in assessing and tracking the effectiveness of care. Far more advanced than traditional blood pressure or heart rate analysis, HRV is a technology that can measure the exact amount of imbalance or dysfunction within the nervous system to help us better understand your child’s dysautonomia. 

One important thing for parents and providers to know when caring for patients struggling with dysautonomia is that we must first address the “basics” and get things like digestive motility, sleep, immune function, and motor function healthy and back “online” first. 

Helping the nervous system heal naturally has to happen in the same “order” or sequence that optimal neurological development is supposed to occur. Our PX Docs Network of incredible Pediatric Chiropractors know that before we can expect improvements in brain-based challenges such as seizures and anxiety, we must first get to work on the patient’s digestion, sleep, immune function, and motor system. 

In Francesca’s case, once we started to get her sleep, digestion, and immune system back online and healthy again, we knew it was only a matter of time before her brain-based challenges would start to improve as well!

What Makes a PX Doc Different

While it’s always been known that chiropractic care can improve neurological function, our PX Docs take that much further. The entire focus of our care is addressing dysautonomia, and in turn restoring balance and function to the autonomic nervous system. 

Not only do our exam and scanning technology focus on dysautonomia, so does our adjusting technique and approach. We measure and assess for dysautonomia on each and every visit, and each adjustment is designed to these two crucial things each and every time: 

  1. Release and calm the excessive sympathetic response (fight-or-flight) from dysautonomia
  2. Boost and stimulate a vagal nerve and parasympathetic response (rest, digest, and heal) 

Visit our PX Docs Directory right away to connect with a Care Advocate and book your New Patient Consult and Scans today! Once you know the exact amount of dysautonomia your child is struggling with, you can get an exact plan to restore and rebalance it right away! 

Our kids are designed to heal, and they’re darn good at it. Even if your child has gone through each step of the Perfect Storm and has struggled since early on, that can change. Click, call, and book today! 

Dr. Tony Ebel, DC, CACCP, CCWP

Certified Wellness + Pediatric Chiropractor


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