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What Are The Symptoms Of Autonomic Neuropathy & How Do You Test For It?

Autonomic neuropathy takes place whenever the nerves responsible to control any of the involuntary functions of the body suffer severe damages. The disease may even affect one’s temperature control, blood pressure, bladder function, digestion, and sexual functions. In addition, in some cases, nerve damages interfere with messages sent between the different body organs and the body, along with the specific areas belonging to the autonomic nervous system. Here, parts of the autonomic nervous system include the blood vessels, heart and sweat glands.

What Are The First Symptoms Of Autonomic Neuropathy?

First symptoms associated with the problem of autonomic neuropathy depend on the affected nerves in patients. Accordingly-

Digestive Problems Related Symptoms

  • Loose or hard bowel movements referred to as diarrhea and constipation respectively
  • Feeling full or relatively less hungry even after having only a few bites of any food
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Difficulty in swallowing food and water
  • Throwing up the undigested food
  • Problems of heartburn

Heart And Blood Vessels Problems Related Symptoms

  • Fainting or dizziness while standing up
  • Excessively fast heartbeat rate, especially at the time of doing physical exercises

Urinary Problems Related Symptoms

  • Difficulty in starting the pee or lacking control while peeing
  • Experiencing a hard time while emptying the urinary bladder
  • Various types of urinary tract infections

Symptoms Related To Body Temperature Problems

  • Sweating during the nighttime
  • Sweating at the time of having meals
  • Sweating excessively or too much less

Symptoms Of Sexual Problems

  • Dry vagina in women
  • Difficulty in erection in men
  • Low sexual drive
  • Problems related to orgasm

Vision Problems Related Symptom

Difficulty in adjusting between a dark room and a bright one(1)

How Do You Test For Autonomic Neuropathy?

Physical Examination And Blood Tests

Your doctor will conduct a physical examination and ask about any of the aforementioned examinations. He or she may even recommend blood tests to identify-

  • Diabetes or spike in your blood glucose level
  • Any type of autoimmune disease, including the Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Lyme disease, HIV or any other similar type of infections
  • Additional Tests To Evaluate Your Autonomic Functions

Breathing Tests

Breathing tests are responsible to measure the response of your blood pressure and heart rate while you do physical exercises. Especially, the test checks whether you exhale forcefully i.e. Valsalva maneuver or not.

Tilt-Table Test

Tilt-table test monitors your heart rate and blood pressure to any change in your position and posture, while stimulates whatever takes place while you stand up after you lie down. Accordingly, patients initially have to lie flat over a table. Later on, your upper portion of the body is raised by tilting the same table. In normal conditions, the body of an individual narrows his blood vessels, while increases the pulse or heart rate for compensating the drop occurs in the blood pressure.

However, the same response is relatively slow or often becomes abnormal in the case of autonomic neuropathy patients. Alternatively, you may undergo a relatively simple test, where you have to stand for one minute, followed by squatting for another one minute and finally, standing at still position. Your doctor will monitor your heart rate and blood pressure in each of your mentioned positions.

Gastrointestinal Tests

Gastrointestinal tests or gastric emptying tests intend to check any type of digestive abnormalities, such as delay in emptying of your stomach i.e. gastroparesis and slow digestion.

Quantitative Sudomotor Axon Reflex Test

Doctors recommend for this test to evaluate the way, in which your nerves responsible for regulating sweat glands respond to any type of stimulation. For this, doctors pass a small amount of electric current from the capsules placed on your lower and upper legs, forearms, as well as your feet. On the other side, a computer remains present to analyze the response of your sweat glands and nerves. You may feel warm or a tingling type of sensation at the time of the diagnose procedure.

Thermoregulatory Sweat Test

While conducting a thermoregulatory sweat test, doctors coat you by applying a powder, which changes its color while you sweat. Whenever you lie in your chamber with the temperature increases slowly, digital photos track the results as you start to sweat. Here, the sweat pattern determines and confirms the diagnosis of your autonomic neuropathy or recommends various causes related to your increase or decrease in sweating problems.

Urodynamic Tests or Urinalysis and Bladder Function Tests

If you experience signs and symptoms related to the urinary tract or urinary bladder infections, your doctor recommends you undergoing with a series of bladder and urine tests to evaluate the urinary bladder functions.(2)


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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:July 31, 2019

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