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The Basics of Autonomic Neuropathy

Autonomic neuropathy is a condition in which the collection of nerves that control the body’s involuntary functions are damaged. Since our nervous system is responsible for the transmission of sensory information, this damage can deeply affect how we function. When an individual develops this condition, it can greatly affect their heart rate, perspiration, blood pressure, and digestion. 

The Basics of Autonomic Neuropathy

Typically, these bodily functions are second nature to us, but nerve damage makes it unfamiliar, and certain activities may feel impossible. Additionally, damage to the nerves prevents your body from responding to changes quickly. For example, if you stand up suddenly, you may feel dizzy or nauseous, or if you do intense cardio, you may feel physically unprepared. 

What Causes Autonomic Neuropathy?

There are a variety of reasons why autonomic neuropathy may develop in the first place. In order to properly approach treatment for your condition, it is important to have a full understanding of why it developed. Depending on the source of the condition, it will change which treatments will be most effective. 

Autonomic neuropathy is often an after effect of diabetes, this condition is also known as diabetic autonomic neurotherapy. If diabetes goes uncared for, it can cause nerve damage throughout the body. If you have diabetes and have noticed any symptoms associated with neuropathy, make sure you consult with your doctor to ensure the condition will not worsen.

Another reason why autonomic neuropathy can develop is from an autoimmune disorder. When a disease attacks your immune system, it attacks tissue in the body, and many of them will directly attack the nerves. 

Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy often develop some form of neuropathy. This treatment is meant to attack the cancer cells, but in the process this powerful treatment sometimes attacks the nervous system. When this happens, it results in autonomic neuropathy. 

In addition to these causes, here are additional causes of autonomic neuropathy:

> Certain medications

> Viruses or bacteria

> Protein buildup

> Inherited disorders

If you have any preexisting conditions that may increase your chance of developing autonomic neuropathy, practicing a healthy lifestyle can decrease your chances of nerve damage. If you are concerned, you should reach out to your doctor to learn more about preventative measures. 

What Symptoms are Associated with Autonomic Neuropathy?

The symptoms associated with autonomic neuropathy vary from patient to patient. Depending on the cause of your neuropathy, you may have a different experience than others. If you have been diagnosed with neuropathy, it is very important that you understand the symptoms that come with it. If you know what to expect, it will make the process more maintainable. 

Autonomic neuropathy will affect everyone in a different way. However, there is a list of symptoms that may act as a telltale sign. 

General symptoms of Autonomic Neuropathy

> Dizziness

> Inability to control bladder

> Difficulty eating

> Difficulty swallowing

> Difficulty breathing

> Irregular heartbeat

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should consult with your doctor to get an official diagnosis. Integrated Pain Management can help if you are showing related symptoms. Request an appointment today with our experts and we will conduct one or more tests to determine if your symptoms are caused by neuropathy or another medical condition. 

In addition to these general symptoms, autonomic neuropathy also affects different systems as a whole. 

Autonomic neuropathy often affects the cardiovascular system, resulting in changes in the heart rate and blood pressure. Additionally, autonomic neuropathy can prevent your body from sensing an emergency response. For example, if you are about to have a heart attack, your body could have a harder time understanding what is happening. 

If you damage the nerves of your digestive system, there are different effects it could have. Most commonly, it will result in nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and difficulty swallowing. Inconsistencies in the digestive system can also lead to further infections such as bladder infections. 

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, meeting with your primary care physician is the first step towards recovery and preventing these symptoms from worsening. 

Treatment Options for Autonomic Neuropathy

Depending on the cause of your condition, your doctor will begin by treating the underlying disease. For example, if your autonomic neuropathy was caused by diabetes, your doctor will likely focus on fixing your diet and exercise regime.

When beginning neurotherapy treatment, your doctor will start by focusing on conservative treatment options, which is usually making a few lifestyle changes. A few lifestyle changes that could result in a healthier lifestyle includes:

> Posture correction

> Diet

> Exercise

> Acupuncture

> Physical therapy

Although neuropathy is not reversible, it can be controlled to the extent that the underlying condition is controlled. To properly treat your condition, your doctor will focus the treatment around your symptoms. 

You’ve been diagnosed with autonomic neuropathy, what next?

Autonomic neuropathy can be extremely difficult to live with. In addition to symptoms associated with it, it often leaves individuals with a lack of motivation, making it even more difficult to make positive lifestyle changes. Finding a qualified doctor with experience in treating neuropathy is the best step to getting you back on track. 

Upon a formal diagnosis of autonomic neuropathy, a doctor will suggest you try out a variety of conservative treatments. Although, at times, it might seem tedious, closely following your care plan formulated by your doctor is the best approach to autonomic neuropathy. 

Integrated Pain Management offers a modern approach to pain management treatments, allowing patients to find the treatment that works best for them. If you are interested in learning more about autonomic neuropathy, reach out to Integrated Pain Management and connect with our experienced team to begin the road to recovery.