Autonomic Nervous System: Subdivisions, Functions, and Implications for Health

autonomic Nervous System:

controls the many body functions that occur without voluntary control. (digestion, dilation and constriction of blood vessels)

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is a division of the peripheral nervous system that regulates the involuntary functions of the body. The ANS has two major subdivisions: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).

The SNS is responsible for the “fight or flight” response, which prepares the body for physical activity or stress. It increases heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure, and redirects blood flow to muscles.

The PNS, on the other hand, is responsible for the “rest and digest” response, which promotes relaxation and conservation of energy. It decreases heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure, and promotes digestion and elimination.

The ANS also has a third subdivision, the enteric nervous system, which controls the gastrointestinal tract and functions independently of the SNS and PNS.

Imbalances in the ANS can lead to a variety of conditions, including hypertension, gastroparesis, and irritable bowel syndrome. Treatment may involve medication, lifestyle changes, or behavioral therapy.

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