Autonomic neuropathy is a term used to describe damage to the autonomic nerves. As a result the nerve synapses are not transmitting properly to the receptors. Autonomic nerves basically control your bodies’ internal organs the heart, stomach, intestines, kidneys, liver, bladder, blood vessels, pupils and sweat and saliva glands. These nerves work on auto pilot (autonomously) and they require no conscious effort on your part. Disorders to the autonomic nerves may be progressive, however, many are reversible.
There are two divisions to the autonomic nervous system, the Sympathetic Division and the Parasympathetic Division.
The Sympathetic Division, depicted by the yellow lines in the illustration, readies the body for emergency or stressful situations. To make it easier to breath it increases the airways and the heart rate increases. It releases adrenaline into the bloodstream which increases muscle strength. It also activates your sweat glands and makes your hair stand up. Also body functions that are not important like urination and digestion are slowed.
The Parasympathetic Division, depicted by the green lines in the illustration, is what regulates body functions during normal conditions. It restores and conserves the heart rate will slow and the blood pressure will decrease. The digestive tract will be stimulated and the stomach and intestines will process food and the bowels and bladder will function normally.
Symptoms of Autonomic neuropathy normally develop slowly over several or many years and depending on which nerves are affected the symptoms will be widely varied. For example if the bladder is affected you may have to urinate very frequently or involuntarily because it is overactive and if it is underactive you would have trouble emptying the bladder, this could lead to urinary tract infections. Another common symptom is lightheadedness when you stand, you feel like you may faint or pass out, this is caused by a decrease in blood pressure. Autonomic neuropathy also can cause high blood pressure. As you can see the symptoms can be any body process that is not functioning in a “normal” or expected way.
Autonomic Neuropathy Treatment
The medicines prescribed to help correct the conditions are as widely varied as the symptoms. A specific symptom would require a specific drug to alleviate, ease or rectify that symptom.
Sometimes simple things you can do at home will help to alleviate the symptoms. For example posture, diet and properly controlling your blood sugar may help. In Dr Labrums’ program, The Neuropathy Solution, he outlines the steps to overcoming neuropathy. Many forms of neuropathy can be reversed by simply following his 6-step formula.
As an alternative medical treatment Alpha-lipoic acid which is an antioxidant might be beneficial in slowing or even reversing neuropathy that’s causing heart rate or blood pressure irregularities. And Acupuncture has been reported to help many patients.