Autonomic Neuropathy is a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. The Autonomic nervous system is a part of the Peripheral nervous system of the body. The Autonomic nervous system is mainly responsible for the working of visceral organs of the body. The autonomic nervous system controls the functioning of visceral organs of the body like heart rate, respiration rate, urination, etc. which indicates that it controls non-voluntary reactions in the body. The autonomic nervous system most predominantly has affection for visceral organs like urinary bladder, heart, genitalia of body and organs involved in digestive functions. Any disruption in autonomic nerve supply leads to an inability to control nonvoluntary actions of body organs; leading to neuropathy of the autonomic nervous system.
Coping Methods For Autonomic Neuropathy
The treatment of Autonomic neuropathy is generally symptomatic. The symptoms include disruption of normal involuntary and non-sensory activities like impairment indigestion causing diarrhea, constipation or bloating, urinary difficulties like incontinence of urine, difficult or incomplete urination, abnormal sweating, sexual problems, consistent dizzy state and syncope upon standing up.
The coping methods involve finding the cause through the presence of predisposing factors and medical conditions and by observation of symptoms manifested. According to the severity of the condition, symptomatic treatment is started. Apart from medicinal usage, other treatment options are acupuncture and electrical nerve stimulation. Dietary modification is a relevant coping strategy for autonomic neuropathy. It corrects problems associated with digestion. Inclusion of excess amount of soluble fiber, as well as greater consumption of water, intake of small meals which are lactose and gluten-free, frequently lead to the treatment of bloat, medicines called Metaclopramide fasten the gastric emptying rate and antibiotics prevent diarrhea.
Laxatives can be used if constipation is present. Chronic suffering leads to a depressive state of mind. For this, antidepressants can be administered; which also aid in the treatment of abdominal pain due to neuropathy. Medicinal use of Bethanechol can be done to empty the bladder if issues related to delayed or difficult urination are observed. If polyuria is evident, administer drugs like tolterodine or oxybutynin. If medicinal assistance doesn’t produce desirable results, catheter invasion is done.
For sexual abnormalities, vaginal lubricants, medications like sildenafil, vardenafil, etc. for erectile genitalia, vacuum pumps for penis erection can be used. In the case of cardiovascular affections, like low blood pressure, medications like fludrocortisone are taken and the bed is elevated. Glycopyrrolate ingestion aids in decreasing sweating. Beta-blockers regulate heart rate if tachycardia is seen. If fainting upon standing up is observed, light exercises like seated cycling, water aerobics, etc. can be performed. The usage of Insulin injections and monitoring blood glucose levels is important. To foster strength and determination, joining local support groups or visiting a therapist, conversing with family and friends can be done to redeem emotional and mental support. (1)
Causes Of Autonomic Neuropathy
Varied causative factors lead to Autonomic Neuropathy. These include:
- The most standard case of Autonomic Neuropathy is found in patients suffering from Diabetes Mellitus Type 1 AND 2. Diabetes mellitus in the chronic stage leads to extensive nerve damage in the whole body, thus, causes Autonomic Neuropathy.
- The presence of neurodegenerative diseases causes degeneration of the autonomic nerves. Diseases like Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and Atrophy of multiple systems of the body lead to the prevalence of Autonomic Neuropathy.
- The direct cause of autonomic neuropathy includes direct damage to autonomic nerves, which can be due to exposure to radiations or manipulation of visceral organs during surgery.
- It can also result due to hereditary diseases.
- It can also be produced due to invasion by certain infectious agents like viruses (HIV), bacteria, and botulinum toxins.
- In the case of patients suffering from cancer, certain chemotherapeutic agents can lead to autonomic neuropathy.
Autoimmune diseases can be cited as a prevalent cause of autonomic neuropathy wherein the immune system of the body which normally aids by protecting reverses its role and destroys the body’s own cell lines. (2)
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