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How Dangerous Is Autonomic Neuropathy & Is It Contagious?


When the nerves that control involuntary functions in our body are damaged, it gives rise to a condition known as autonomic neuropathy. These nerves are a part of the autonomic nervous system in our body. This condition can affect various functions like temperature control, digestion, blood pressure, bladder function, sexual function, etc. Diabetes is the most common cause of autonomic neuropathy.(1,2)

The damage to the nerves results in improper messages being sent between the brain and various other organs in your body. Various health conditions lead to autonomic neuropathy and diabetes is one of the leading causes of this condition.(1)

How Dangerous Is Autonomic Neuropathy?

Autonomic neuropathy is caused due to nerve damage. If a prompt and an efficient management program are not started, the nerves may get damaged extensively and beyond repair. There may be a sudden death too, due to reasons like dangerous arrhythmias or ischemia. Hence, it is required to consult with your doctor immediately when you start seeing any of the signs suggestive of autonomic neuropathy.(1)

Is Autonomic Neuropathy Contagious?

Autonomic neuropathy is not contagious. It cannot spread to another person through direct contact. The nerves that are affected in autonomic neuropathy will be responsible for the signs and symptoms that you may experience, like-

Dizziness And Fainting-

A sudden dip in blood pressure may lead to dizziness and fainting

Urinary Problems-

Problems like urinary incontinence, loss of bladder control, the problem in starting urination, incomplete bladder emptying may be seen, which may lead to urinary tract infections.

Sexual Problems-

Problems like erectile dysfunction, problems with ejaculation can be seen in men, while women may suffer from problems like dryness in vagina, low desire for sex, inability to reach orgasm, etc.

Digestion Problems-

  • There may be problems like the fullness of stomach just after eating a few bites, anorexia, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, nausea, heartburn, problems in swallowing food, etc. this is due to changes in digestive functions.
  • You may not be able to recognize hypoglycemia or low blood sugar since the warning signs like shaky hands may be absent
  • Sweating problems like too much or too little sweat may be present.
  • This may affect your body’s ability to regulate its temperature

Eye Problems-

It may be difficult to adjust in different light settings, as there is a sluggish reaction of pupils

Intolerance Toward Exercise-

Exercise problems may arise, and you may become intolerant to exercise if your heart cannot adjust to the level of your activity

Causes Of Autonomic Neuropathy

Many medical conditions can be responsible for causing diabetic neuropathy. Treatment methods for conditions like cancer may also cause autonomic neuropathy. Some of the common factors that may lead to autonomic neuropathy are-


  • This is a term used for an abnormal build-up of protein.
  • This condition affects many organs and also the nervous system

Autoimmune Disorders-

  • In these conditions, your own immune system attacks the healthy cells in your body and leads to damages to various organs in the body.
  • Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus etc. are examples of autoimmune disorders.
  • These autoimmune disorders can affect the nerves, leading to autonomic neuropathy


  • It is one of the most common causes of autonomic neuropathy.
  • This is especially true when there is poorly controlled diabetes.
  • Uncontrolled Diabetes can lead to extensive nerve damage throughout the body, over time.


Medicines used in the treatment of diseases like cancer, especially chemotherapy can cause autonomic neuropathy

Infectious Diseases-

Diseases like HIV, Lyme disease, botulism, etc. can cause autonomic neuropathy

Hereditary Disorders-

Certain inherited conditions may cause autonomic neuropathy


Autonomic neuropathy can be dangerous if it progresses far enough to cause extensive damage to the nerves throughout the body. Many important body functions can get hampered due to this condition. This condition is not contagious.


Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 29, 2019

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