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Autonomic Dysfunction

The autonomic nervous system is responsible for controlling automatic or involuntary body functions including your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and body temperature.  Autonomic dysfunction is an umbrella term which refers to a problem with the autonomic nervous system.  Long COVID can sometimes cause this system to function abnormally, which can result in symptoms including:

  • fatigue
  • lightheadedness
  • dizziness
  • balance problems
  • migraines
  • weakness
  • shortness of breath
  • sweating 
  • cognitive impairment

If you are worried you may have signs or symptoms of autonomic dysfunction, you should first seek medical attention. 

Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS) is characterised by an abnormal increase in heart rate after sitting or standing, causing dizziness or fainting. It can be triggered by viral or bacterial infections, but several medical tests are required in order to confirm a diagnosis.  Please be wary of information you may access online or on social media platforms, as having these symptoms does not always mean you have PoTS.

What can I do to manage this?

There are lifestyle adaptations, which may help manage symptoms of autonomic dysfunction.  However, it is very important that you speak with your healthcare professional before considering any changes.