A nerve related disorder that affects the involuntary activities of the body such as blood pressure, perspiration, heart rate and the digestion process.
This disorder is not a specific illness and the term used refers to the damage of autonomic nerves.
The condition will disrupt the communication between the brain and parts of the autonomic nervous system such as seat glands, heart and blood vessels.
This miscommunication can lead to the abnormal performance of some of the involuntary activities.
Autonomic neuropathy has been found to be a complication in a number of illnesses but it is more common in diabetes. The signs and symptoms of diabetic autonomic neuropathy will depend on the nerves affected.
As aforementioned the signs and symptoms will vary according to the affected nerves. Most patients complain of the following symptoms:
Urinary problems – these may include problems such as difficulty in starting urination, inability to empty the bladder completely and urinary incontinence, which may cause urinary tract infections.
Sexual difficulties – men will have erectile dysfunction which will include the disability to achieve or maintain an erection, ejaculation problems when women will have virginal dryness and difficulties in arousal and orgasms
Fainting or dizziness has been observed and is mostly caused by the drop in blood pressure.
Sweating abnormalities such as the excessive or decrease in sweating which disrupts the ability to regulate the body’s temperature.
Exercise intolerance may occur and the heart rate will not change according to the physical activities. Some patients have reported sluggish pupil reactions which make it difficult to adjust to darkness or light.
Digestion difficulties may occur as a result of abnormal digestive function and slow emptying of the stomach.
This condition causes a feeling of fullness after eating small amounts of food and may cause constipation, diarrhea, abdominal bloating, vomiting, nausea, heartburn and difficulty when swallowing and loss of appetite.
Anyone experiencing the mentioned symptoms should immediately see a medical professional for diagnosis and treatment to prevent complication of the condition.
Autonomic neuropathy is caused by a large number of conditions but diabetes is the cause behind the diabetic autonomic neuropathy, this is because diabetes can lead to the damage of nerves in the body and lead to this type of neuropathy.
Poorly controlled diabetes can cause autonomic neuropathy and the people at a greater risk are those over 25 years old who have a difficulty in managing their blood sugar.
Diabetic people who are overweight will have a problem with blood pressure and this will put them at a greater risk of developing this condition.
When an individual has diabetes, the diagnosis of diabetic autonomic neuropathy is not a difficult process since the condition is known to cause nerve damage that may lead to diabetic autonomic neuropathy.
Tests conducted will involve the autonomic nervous system and may include breathing tests, tilt-table test, gastrointestinal tests, thermoregulatory seat test, ultrasound, urinalysis and bladder function.
There is no treatment known for diabetic autonomic neuropathy but there are treatment measures which are aimed at reducing the intensity of the symptoms and controlling the underlying cause.
Digestive and gastrointestinal symptoms will be controlled through diet modification, medication to ease constipation and empty the stomach, and antidepressant
Urinary symptoms are eased through medication to decrease over reactive bladder, urinary assistance, medication to assist in emptying the bladder and retention of the bladder.
Sexual dysfunction problems will be addressed through vaginal lubricants to deal with dryness and make intercourse comfortable for women, external vacuum pump that assists in the retention of an erection for men as well as medication to enable an erection.
Blood and heart rhythm symptoms will be handled through medication that will help in regulating the heart rate and the blood pressure. A high fluid high salt diet will also help in the maintenance of blood pressure.Sweating will be addressed though medication that decreases perspiration.
Anyone noticing the symptoms that appear to be in line with diabetic autonomic neuropathy should immediately see a medical professional to ensure that the problems are dealt with before they progress to stages that might be difficult to manage.