Blood pressure, temperature control, digestion, bladder function and sexual function can all be affected by autonomic neuropathy.
Normally, nerves send messages to the brain and other organs to ensure they function properly. Because autonomic neuropathy damages these nerves, signals cannot be properly sent, thus causing complications and loss of control.
The most common cause of autonomic neuropathy is diabetes but even infections have been shown to cause it. Medications, too, can contribute to autonomic neuropathy.
Diabetes is a major risk factor for autonomic neuropathy. In can cause damage to heart and blood vessels, the digestive system, the urinary tract, sex organs, sweat glands, eyes and lungs. When diabetes is poorly controlled it increases the risk of autonomic neuropathy and causes other nerve damage as well.
Being diabetic, overweight and having high cholesterol and high blood pressure increase the risk of autonomic neuropathy even more so.
Autonomic neuropathy has negative effects on hypoglycemia symptoms. Hypoglycemia is when blood sugar drops really low, causing shakiness, dizziness, headaches and even fainting. When blood sugar is low the body sends signal to restore it, but when a person has autonomic neuropathy these signal pathways are damaged, and thus the systems put into place to restore blood sugar do not function properly. Not only does blood sugar remain low, but symptoms that signal a person about their blood sugar are not present, causing greater consequences.
The primary cause of autonomic neuropathy is diabetes, but there are other causes as well, including:
Secondary causes of autonomic neuropathy are:
Signs and symptoms of autonomic neuropathy are:
Treatment for autonomic neuropathy primarily involves treating the underlying cause. If diabetes is the cause of autonomic neuropathy, then controlling it can better treat the condition. In some cases, treatment of the underlying cause can help restore and repair damaged nerves over time.
Other treatment methods are to improve daily life and manage specific symptoms. Managing symptoms can be done with the use of medication or lifestyle modifications. Specific symptom treatments may involve medications to ease gastrointestinal dysfunction, retraining your bladder for urinary dysfunction, physical therapy to improve exercise intolerance, medications for erectile dysfunction in men and stress-relieving techniques to combat stress and anxiety.
Specific exercises which can help with autonomic neuropathy include:
Lifestyle changes for autonomic neuropathy involve improving conditions related to autonomic neuropathy, such as blood pressure or vascular tone. Here are some lifestyle changes you can begin to make if you have autonomic neuropathy.
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