The autonomic nervous system refers to the collection of nerves responsible for controlling involuntary bodily functions. This includes regulating a variety of processes such as respiration, heart rate, digestion, sexual functions, and blood pressure. When these nerves are damaged, it interferes with the communication between these organs and the brain, resulting in dysfunction.
Since we are accustomed to these systems functioning on their own, autonomously, individuals with autonomic neuropathy often struggle to adapt to the changes that come with this condition. Depending on the affected organ, patients will experience different debilitating symptoms that can diminish their quality of life.
Most commonly, autonomic neuropathy develops as a result of diabetes due to uncontrolled high blood sugar. Over time, high blood sugar can damage the nerves and the capillaries, the walls of the blood vessels, which supplies the nerves with oxygen and nutrients.
Diabetic autonomic neuropathy is the most common form of the condition, and it affects more than half of diabetic patients. Other causes of autonomic neuropathy include autoimmune diseases and viruses, although less common.
Individuals with diabetes can take precautionary steps to avoid diabetic autonomic neuropathy by making lifestyle changes such as dieting and exercise. Making these adjustments can allow patients to have more control over their blood sugar, ultimately improving their nerve health. If you are interested in learning about different ways to manage or prevent autonomic neuropathy, you can read more about it here.
Autonomic neuropathy symptoms are very important as they prepare you for what to expect. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with autonomic neuropathy, take a moment to read more about the different symptoms commonly associated with the condition so you are one step ahead.
Damage to the cardiovascular system is considered to be the most common effect of diabetic autonomic neuropathy. This condition actually has its own name – cardiac autonomic neuropathy, also known as CAN. This occurs when the autonomic nerve fibers that stimulate the heart and blood vessels are damaged, manifesting symptoms that range from irregular heart rate to severe ischemia.
Tachycardia is a common symptom of CAN, as there are numerous correlations between increased blood glucose levels and high heart rate. Tachycardia is the medical term for a resting heart rate of over 100 BPM. While a higher heart rate is expected with exercise, individuals that consistently have a fast heart rate should meet with a cardiologist to ensure they are taking precautionary measures.
As with many heart conditions, a diagnosis of tachycardia can be daunting, but it is very common and with the correct treatment plan, patients can still do the things they love while managing their heart rate.
Ischemia is one of the most serious conditions associated with diabetic autonomic neuropathy. This refers to a blockage in the arterial blood supply to an organ, and in this case, to the heart. This prevents the heart from adequately pumping blood, which can have serious consequences, such as heart attacks.
While some individuals might experience silent ischemia, and not have any autonomic neuropathy symptoms, individuals with ischemia often report symptoms including shortness of breath, nausea, and a faster heart rate. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to contact your doctor to get a diagnosis and get ahead of your condition.
Cardiac autonomic neuropathy can have serious effects, but with early recognition and the correct treatment plan, it can be manageable. Integrated Pain Management curates a program of wellness for each patient which will fit their individual needs. With close attention and the correct approach, our team helps patients manage autonomic neuropathy symptoms and guides them in making lifestyle changes.
Since our digestive system is an autonomous process, we usually do not pay attention to it. However, individuals with autonomic neuropathy may suffer from digestive-related symptoms such as constipation, trouble swallowing, and nausea. When the digestive nerve pathway is damaged, it prevents the brain from properly communicating with these organs, resulting in dysfunction.
In many cases, patients with nerve damage to the digestive system will develop neurogenic bowel dysfunction. When the nerves that assist in digestion are damaged, it hinders the ability to control bowel movements. This can interrupt the normal functions of the digestive system and prevent digestive control, resulting in issues relating to the rectum and anus.
For the rectum to properly function, there must be adequate communication between the digestive organs. Conditions such as neurogenic bowel dysfunction force these organs to function independently, which the body is not taught to do. If you are experiencing autonomic neuropathy symptoms relating to nerve damage in the digestive system, a routine-based program can allow you to manage your condition. Integrated Pain Management seeks out the underlying cause of your condition and will use this to properly address the problem.
The urinary system is composed of the organs that makes, stores, and passes urine. When functioning, the brain uses nerve signals to communicate with the urinary system, ultimately allowing the brain to comprehend that the bladder is full. However, when this system faces nerve damage, this process becomes less simple.
The medical term for this is neurogenic bladder – the inability to manage bladder control due to nerve damage. This condition can affect the body in a variety of ways, most commonly leading to issues within the bladder such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), leaking urine, and other bladder-related conditions.
UTIs are fairly common, but when an individual develops them on a regular basis, it could be a telltale sign of neurogenic bladder dysfunction. While the bladder typically functions autonomously, neurogenic bladder often leads individuals to forget when they need to urinate. The inability to know when to urinate and the inability to manage the bladder can increase an individual’s chance of developing a UTI.
Another side effect of nerve damage to the urinary system is leaking urine. Since autonomic neuropathy hinders the muscle’s ability to contract, many individuals with this condition may experience leaking urine.
While this can seriously decrease your ability to participate in activities, certain measures can be taken to manage this symptom. The dedicated team members at Integrated Pain Management understand that autonomic neuropathy comes in a variety of forms, and they are skilled in managing even the most burdensome problems.
If the nerves that manage sweat glands are damaged, the glands will struggle to function correctly, leading to irregular sweating. This may lead to increased sweating when performing simple activities such as eating or sleeping. Additionally, this condition can prevent the sweat glands from working at all. While this symptom is often overlooked, it can have serious effects on the body’s natural ability to control its temperature, ultimately leading to the possibility of developing heat intolerance.
Heat intolerance refers to an individual’s unusual response to heat. This could lead to deeper issues such as weakened muscles, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. If you have developed heat intolerance in response to autonomic neuropathy, consulting with a doctor should be the first step. There are conservative treatment options capable of regulating the body’s response to heat that can prevent symptoms.
Integrated Pain Management prioritizes the needs of the patient. When working with patients to develop a wellness plan, our professionals will monitor your autonomic neuropathy symptoms and respond accordingly.
Individuals who have autonomic neuropathy may face problems in the reproductive organs. Neurological injuries have serious effects on sexual functions and can prevent the reproductive organs from functioning properly.
Males and females will experience different issues relating to sexual nerve dysfunction. Males with autonomic neuropathy may experience erectile dysfunction whereas females may experience vaginal dryness.
These problems should not be overlooked, as ignoring these reproductive issues could lead to long-term damage. The reproductive system is responsible for an array of necessary functions, and without the proper treatment, could lead to serious health conditions. By finding the root of the problem and approaching it head-on, it is possible to manage autonomic neuropathy symptoms.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with autonomic neuropathy, it’s time to take the first step. Integrated Pain Management follows a modern approach to neuropathy treatment. While other healthcare facilities target the symptoms directly, we believe that treatment comes down to the underlying issue. Get in touch with our dedicated team today and take the first step towards recovery.