Autoimmune diseases like Sjogren's syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis and celiac disease. An autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks the nerves may also result in autonomic neuropathy. This may be caused by certain forms of cancer like paraneoplastic syndrome.
Diabetes is one of the most common cause of autonomic neuropathy as the disease gradually damages the nerves in different parts of the body
Surgery or radiation may also cause nerve damage resulting in autonomic neuropathy
Certain medications as in chemotherapy is also a cause of this neuropathy
When risk factors are absent, more comprehensive tests are recommended. Diagnostic tests evaluate the functioning of autonomic processes.
Enable to measure the changes in heartrate and blood pressure during exercises
Measures the changes in heartrate and blood pressure with changes in posture and position. In this procedure, the table is tilted to raise the upper part of the body. A delay or abnormality in the response to the change in posture and position may indicate autonomic neuropathy.
Are assessed using gastric-emptying tests. Slow digestion and delay in emptying the stomach are two indications of nerve damage in this region
Quantitative sudomotor axon reflex test
Is a method to evaluate the functioning of the sweat glands. In this procedure, the response of nerves to sweat glands is monitored by passing electric current through four capsules placed in different parts of the body.
Thermoregulatory sweat test
Helps to assess the sweat pattern. In this method, the body is covered with a powder which changes color with sweat. The person is then moved to a chamber where the temperature is increased gradually and the response visualized through images.
Urinalysis and urodynamic tests
Are recommended to evaluate the function of bladder. Ultrasound scan is also used to check the bladder function, particularly when the person has bladder symptoms.
Treatment of autonomic neuropathy focuses on controlling the symptoms and treating the underlying disease.
Gastrointestinal symptoms are managed by
Having a diet rich in fiber and fluids. Fiber supplements are also suggested to ease bowel movements
Medications like metoclopramide is recommended for faster emptying of the stomach.
Laxatives are used to ease bowel movements and to control constipation
Antibiotics are prescribed to treat diarrhea by preventing bacterial growth in the intestine. Diarrhea is also managed by medications normally used to treat high blood pressure and cholesterol
Is controlled by medications that raise pressure by retaining salt. Medications like beta blockers are useful in regulating heartrate. Dietary changes with high salt and fluid content helps to maintain pressure.
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