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Is Autonomic Neuropathy A Progressive Disease & Alternative Treatments For It?

Many cases of autonomic neuropathy result in progressive disease. Cardiac autonomic neuropathy, caused mainly due to diabetes, may progress to cause serious and life-threatening complications including cardiac arrest, cardiac arrhythmia, and cardiac ischemia. Various alternative treatments are available to manage the symptoms of autonomic neuropathy.

Is Autonomic Neuropathy A Progressive Disease?

Autonomic neuropathy is the disorder of the autonomic nervous system. Because of various reasons the autonomic nerves get damaged. Autonomic nerves are responsible for controlling the functions of vital organs including the digestive system, cardiovascular health, bowel movement, and urinary system. The severity of experienced symptoms depends upon the type of autonomic nerve that gets degenerated.

Autonomic neuropathy, in some cases, is a progressive disease. During the disease progression, the severity of symptoms increases or the symptoms related to other organs may begin to generate. If left unmanaged, the condition may lead to life-threatening complications. Pure autonomic failure is an idiopathic disorder that is characterized by severe orthostatic hypotension. The condition is characterized by severely progressive disturbances in autonomic nervous system without any other neurological symptoms1.

Cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy is considered as one of the most serious and life-threatening complications defined by poor autonomic control of the cardiovascular system. The condition is generally caused due to poor diabetes management. It is a progressive condition initiated with a subclinical stage to a stage characterized by disabling symptoms.

Alternative Treatments For Autonomic Neuropathy

Various alternative treatments are available to manage the symptoms of autonomic neuropathy. These treatments include:

Lifestyle Alterations: Diabetes is one of the causes of autonomic neuropathy. Through diet control and exercise along with medications helps controlling diabetes. Further, change in posture may alleviate dizziness3. To counter the digestive symptoms of constipation and indigestion, eat small and frequent meals and incorporate a sufficient quantity of fibrous food in your diet.

Supplementation: Various supplementations prevent the damage to autonomic nerves. These include antioxidants such as alpha-lipoic acid that also helps to improve the nerve conduction across autonomic nerves.

Acupuncture: Although acupuncture is in a very infantile stage for treating the symptoms of autonomic neuropathy acupuncture has the potential to treat digestive disorders and erectile dysfunction caused due to autonomic neuropathy.

Electrical Nerve Stimulation3: Electrical nerve stimulation would be another treatment option to reduce the pain due to autonomic nerve damage.

Causes Of Autonomic Neuropathy

Following are the causes of autonomic neuropathy:

Diabetes: Diabetes is considered as the most common cause of autonomic neuropathy. American Diabetes Association has recommended annual screening for autonomic neuropathy to the patients suffering from both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Increased level of sugar for a prolonged period may damage the autonomic nerves. The autonomic neuropathy caused due to diabetes is a progressive condition and gradually affect almost all the autonomic nerves of the body.

Autoimmune Disease: Various autoimmune diseases such as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Celiac disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis may cause autonomic neuropathy2. The immune system attacks the autonomic nerves and damages them.

Disease: Acute and chronic infections may lead to autonomic neuropathy. Infections include HIV, Lyme disease and botulism may lead to autonomic neuropathy. Further, other conditions such as Parkinson’s disease also results in autonomic neuropathy.

Abnormal Protein Accumulation: Amyloidosis is the condition characterized by the build-up of protein in the body. This condition results in damage to autonomic nerves.

Medications: Various medications, especially chemotherapy drugs lead to autonomic neuropathy.

Inheritance: People with various inherited disorder results in autonomic neuropathy.

Nerve Trauma: Nerve trauma such as cut, burn or bruise may result in autonomic neuropathy.

Alcoholism: Alcohol also results in autonomic neuropathy.

Dyslipidemia: High level of fats such as triglycerides may cause damage to nerves resulting in autonomic neuropathy.


Cardiac autonomic neuropathy is a progressive disease. Autonomic neuropathy may be caused due to diabetes, infection, and medications. Various alternative treatments such as supplements, acupuncture, electrical nerve stimulation, and lifestyle management help alleviate the symptoms of autonomic neuropathy.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 12, 2019

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