Autonomic neuropathy in diabetes prevents normal functioning of body systems. Persistent high blood sugar damages autonomic nerves responsible for controlling the internal processes of your body. These includes your cardiovascular, digestive, urinary and even reproductive system.
What Is Autonomic Neuropathy?
Autonomic neuropathy in diabetes is a condition where nerves in your autonomic nervous system are damaged by persistant high blood sugar. Your autonomic nervous system controls key body functions such as heartbeat, respiration, digestion, urination, sexual arousal etc on auto-pilot mode. Therefore, damaged autonomic nerves can hinder normal body functions.
Symptoms of Autonomic Neuropathy
The most recognizable symptoms of autonomic neuropathy in diabetes are ailments pertaining to the gastrointestinal tract, urinal tract and genitals:
- Paralysis of the bladder is among the most common symptoms of autonomic neuropathy. If this happens, the nerves of your bladder can no longer respond normally to pressure of urine volume. As a result, your urine will stay in the bladder and this can trigger UTI or urinary tract infections.
- Diarrhea can happen if nerves controlling the small intestine are damaged. The diarrhea will usually take place in the night. Another common symptom of the damage to the nerves of the intestine is constipation.
- Your stomach may lose the ability to process food within the digestive system, which will lead to bloating and vomiting. This condition is also known as the gastroparesis, and can change the manner in which your body absorbs food. This will make it hard for your body to match the insulin doses with food portions.
- Autonomic neuropathy can also lead to erectile dysfunction. This is especially true if it affects the nerves responsible for controlling erection during sexual arousal. However, sexual desire remains unaffected.
However, you can also look out for heart symptoms:
- increased heart rate even in resting position
- dizziness or feeling faint when standing up
- explainable unconsciousness
- heart attack without showing signs like chest pain
And sweat glands symptoms:
- excessive perspiration at night or during meals
- lack of perspiration despite feeling hot
- dry skin in the feet
Scientists are not yet sure on the exact cause of autonomic neuropathy in diabetes. Hence, they are still looking for better treatments for this condition.
Diagnosis Of Autonomic Neuropathy In Diabetes
In order to diagnose autonomic neuropathy, you may need to undergo a physical examination and go through several tests. For instance, an ultrasound test checks the condition of your bladder. Stomach problems are examined with the use of x-rays and some other tests. Informing your doctor of the symptoms will surely play a part in making the diagnosis.
Treatment Of Autonomic Neuropathy In Diabetes
There are various types of treatments that can cure the damage to the nerves responsible for controlling the body systems. For instance, a dietitian may suggest certain meal plans for you to follow especially if you are feeling nauseous at all times. Certain medications can also help in speeding up the digestion and minimize the onset of diarrhea. Treatment of erection problems involves medications or medical devices.