Learn About Autonomic Neuropathy

What is the definition of Autonomic Neuropathy?

Autonomic neuropathy is a group of symptoms that occur when there is damage to the nerves that manage every day body functions. These functions include blood pressure, heart rate, sweating, bowel and bladder emptying, and digestion.

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What are the alternative names for Autonomic Neuropathy?

Neuropathy - autonomic; Autonomic nerve disease

What are the causes of Autonomic Neuropathy?

Autonomic neuropathy is a group of symptoms. It is not a specific disease. There are many causes.

Autonomic neuropathy involves damage to the nerves that carry information from the brain and spinal cord. The information is then carried to the heart, blood vessels, bladder, intestines, sweat glands, and pupils.

Autonomic neuropathy may be seen with:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Diabetes (diabetic neuropathy)
  • Disorders involving scarring of tissues around the nerves
  • Guillain Barré syndrome or other diseases that inflame nerves
  • Inherited nerve disorders
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson disease
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Surgery or injury involving the nerves
What are the symptoms of Autonomic Neuropathy?

Symptoms vary, depending on the nerves affected. They usually develop slowly over years.

Stomach and intestine symptoms may include:

  • Constipation (hard stools)
  • Diarrhea (loose stools)
  • Feeling full after only a few bites (early satiety)
  • Nausea after eating
  • Problems controlling bowel movements
  • Swallowing problems
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Vomiting of undigested food

Heart and lungs symptoms may include:

  • Abnormal heart rate or rhythm
  • Blood pressure changes with position that causes dizziness when standing
  • High blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath with activity or exercise

Bladder symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty beginning to urinate
  • Feeling of incomplete bladder emptying
  • Leaking urine

Other symptoms may include:

  • Sweating too much or not enough
  • Heat intolerance brought on with activity and exercise
  • Sexual problems, including erection problems in men and vaginal dryness and orgasm difficulties in women
  • Small pupil in one eye
  • Weight loss without trying
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What are the current treatments for Autonomic Neuropathy?

Treatment to reverse nerve damage is most often not possible. As a result, treatment and self-care are focused on managing your symptoms and preventing further problems.

Your health care provider may recommend:

  • Extra salt in the diet or taking salt tablets to increase fluid volume in blood vessels
  • Fludrocortisone or similar medicines to help your body retain salt and fluid
  • Medicines to treat irregular heart rhythms
  • Pacemaker
  • Sleeping with the head raised
  • Wearing compression stockings

The following may help your intestines and stomach work better:

  • Daily bowel care program
  • Medicines that help the stomach move food through faster
  • Sleeping with the head raised
  • Small, frequent meals

Medicines and self-care programs can help you if you have:

  • Urinary incontinence
  • Neurogenic bladder
  • Erection problems
Who are the top Autonomic Neuropathy Local Doctors?
Highly rated in

NYU Langone Health

NYC Health And Hospitals - Bellevue

462 1st Avenue 
New York, NY 10016

Horacio Kaufmann is a Neurologist in New York, New York. Dr. Kaufmann has been practicing medicine for over 44 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Autonomic Neuropathy. He is also highly rated in 24 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Familial Dysautonomia, Hereditary Sensory and Autonomic Neuropathy Type 2, Hajdu-Cheney Syndrome, and Orthostatic Hypotension. He is licensed to treat patients in New York.

Highly rated in

Institute For Clinical Diabetology

Duesseldorf, NW, DE 

Dan Ziegler is in Duesseldorf, Germany. Ziegler is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Autonomic Neuropathy. He is also highly rated in 8 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Autonomic Neuropathy, Diabetic Neuropathy, Sensorimotor Polyneuropathy, and Peripheral Neuropathy.

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Highly rated in

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals 
Sheffield, ENG, GB S102J

Solomon Tesfaye is in Sheffield, United Kingdom. Tesfaye is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Autonomic Neuropathy. He is also highly rated in 6 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Diabetic Neuropathy, Autonomic Neuropathy, Peripheral Neuropathy, and Sensorimotor Polyneuropathy.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Autonomic Neuropathy?

How well you do will depend on the cause of the problem and if it can be treated.

When should I contact a medical professional for Autonomic Neuropathy?

Call your provider if you have symptoms of autonomic neuropathy. Early symptoms might include:

  • Becoming faint or lightheaded when standing
  • Changes in bowel, bladder, or sexual function
  • Unexplained nausea and vomiting when eating

Early diagnosis and treatment may control symptoms.

Autonomic neuropathy may hide the warning signs of a heart attack. Instead of feeling chest pain, if you have autonomic neuropathy, during a heart attack you may only have:

  • Sudden fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
How do I prevent Autonomic Neuropathy?

Prevent or control associated disorders to reduce the risk for neuropathy. For example, people with diabetes should closely control blood sugar levels.

Autonomic Nerves
Central nervous system and peripheral nervous system
What are the latest Autonomic Neuropathy Clinical Trials?
Characterization of AmnioExcel Plus in Two Treatment Paradigms
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Assessment of Wound Closure Comparing Synthetic Hybrid-Scale Fiber Matrix With Lyophilized Acellular Fish Skin in Treating Diabetic Foot Ulcers (DFU) and With Living Cellular Skin Substitute in Treating Venous Leg Ulcers (VLU)
What are the Latest Advances for Autonomic Neuropathy?
Pilot Double-Blind Randomised Controlled Trial: Effects of Jejunal Nutrition on Postprandial Distress in Diabetic Gastropathy (J4G Trial).
Short-term Effect of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathic Pain.
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High-intensity interval training for 12 weeks improves cardiovascular autonomic function but not somatosensory nerve function and structure in overweight men with type 2 diabetes.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date : November 04, 2020
Published By : Amit M. Shelat, DO, FACP, FAAN, Attending Neurologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Katirji B. Disorders of peripheral nerves. In: Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, Newman NJ, eds. Bradley and Daroff's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 106.

Smith G, Shy ME. Peripheral neuropathies. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 392.