Who Is At Risk For Autonomic Neuropathy & Is There A Blood Test For It?

Autonomic neuropathy refers to a condition where the nerves that are responsible for the involuntary functions in the body get damaged. This condition can cause serious effects on the blood pressure, temperature regulation, digestion, bladder function, sexual function, etc.(1)

Who Is At Risk For Autonomic Neuropathy?

Some factors may increase your risk of getting autonomic neuropathy. These factors may include-

Diabetes-

  • In a condition like diabetes, especially when it is improperly controlled, there is a huge risk for autonomic neuropathy.
  • It can also lead to other nerve damage conditions
  • Also, if there is a problem in controlling the blood sugar levels, the risk increases even more.(1)

Other Health Conditions-

Is There A Blood Test For Autonomic Neuropathy?

There is no specific blood test to diagnose autonomic neuropathy. However, your doctor may advise you to take a blood test to check for diabetes, as it is one of the leading causes of autonomic neuropathy. He may also ask you to take tests for other such risk factors, which increase your risk of getting autonomic neuropathy.(2)

Other methods of diagnosis for autonomic neuropathy-

The tests recommended for the diagnosis of autonomic neuropathy largely depend upon your presenting signs and symptoms and the risk factors for this condition. For risk factors that are known such as diabetes and cancer, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medications that you have been taking and establish a diagnose accordingly.(3)

For risk factors that are unknown, or in case you have symptoms of autonomic neuropathy, but do not have any risk factors, the doctor will need to review your complete medical history, know your symptoms and have a detailed physical examination.

Other tests may include-(3)

Respiration Tests-

They help in measuring the way your heart rate and blood pressure respond to exercises like forceful breathing or the Valsalva maneuver

Tilt Table Test-

  • In this test, your blood pressure and heartbeats are monitored in different positions.
  • To do this, you lie on a table and then that table is tilted so that your upper body gets raised. The body normally constricts blood vessels and elevates the heart rate to compensate for the dip in the blood pressure.
  • However, this won’t be the case if you are suffering from autonomic neuropathy.
  • Another test to check this is done simply by standing for a minute, then squatting for the same time and then again standing

Gastrointestinal Tests-

  • They will check if you are having slow digestion or delayed emptying of the stomach, also known as gastroparesis.
  • Usually, a gastroenterologist performs these tests

Sweat Glands Evaluation Test-

In this test, the nerves responsible for the regulation of your sweat glands are evaluated.

Sweat Test-

  • In this test, your body is coated in a powder that will change color when there is sweating.
  • Your pattern of sweating may help confirm the diagnosis of autonomic neuropathy

Bladder Function Tests-

If your symptoms are related to urine and bladder control, some tests may help in evaluating your bladder function

USG-

Ultrasound imaging may be done for the same.(3)

Conclusion

There are many risk factors for autonomic neuropathy. Though most of the underlying causes cannot be avoided, the condition can be managed so that it does not cause any further damage. There is no blood test to confirm this condition, however, blood tests can reveal the underlying cause, and the course of the treatment can be thus, decided.

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