Tags: nervous system | immunity | blood pressure | neurons

What Is Autonomic Imbalance?

Wednesday, 19 October 2016 04:42 PM Current | Bio | Archive

The human body is made up of a number of competing systems that work together in tandem.

What happens is that one system stimulates certain functions and the opposing system dampens those activities.

For example, the pancreas has cells that release insulin to lower blood sugar, as well as other cells that release a different substance called glucagon, which raises blood sugar.

The brain contains some neurons that excite activity and others that calm.

Likewise, our immune systems have some chemicals that increase reactions and other that stop reactions.

The autonomic nervous system is another of these competing systems.

It is called autonomic because it controls things that we do not consciously have to think about, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and other involuntary functions.

As noted, the autonomic nervous system is divided into a sympathetic system and a parasympathetic system.

The sympathetic nerves control what we call “fight-or-flight” responses, which prepare us to confront or run away from danger. This includes effects such as:

• Increased brain alertness

• Increased heart rate

• Rise in blood pressure

• Dilation of pupils

• Quieting of the gastrointestinal tract

The parasympathetic nerves have the opposite effect; they prepare us for rest, calmness, and digestion.

When activated, the parasympathetic nervous system constricts the pupils, calms the brain, slows the heart, lowers blood pressure, activates the GI tract.

Our bodies function best when these two systems are in balance. That’s how we were meant to be for most of our waking lives.
Today, we are seeing a number of disorders that indicate prolonged imbalance of the autonomic nervous system, where the sympathetic function is overactive and the parasympathetic function is underactive.

In fact, the more we look at diseases, the more often we find this type of imbalance.

Why is this dangerous?

It is much like sitting in your car with the accelerator pushed all the way to the floor; in time, this type of “overdrive” will damage the engine of the car.

The brain can take high levels of activity for a short time, but then it begins to wear down and even destroy some of its structures.

The same is true of the heart and other organs that are affected by the body’s sympathetic nervous system.

Studies have shown that overall mortality is related to autonomic imbalance, with sympathetic overdrive shortening both lifespan and health span — a measure of how long a person will remain healthy.

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The human body is made up of a number of competing systems that work together in tandem.
nervous system, immunity, blood pressure, neurons
Wednesday, 19 October 2016 04:42 PM
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