Autonomic dysfunction is a condition that affects the body’s autonomic nervous system. As it controls involuntary functions such as:
- heart rate;
- blood pressure;
- digestion, and more.
One of the most popular ways to treat autonomic dysfunction is medication. But you also can tackle this disorder by implementing lifestyle changes. The condition can be debilitating and affect a person’s quality of life. Fortunately, there are several methods of treatment available for this condition. This article will explore some common autonomic neuropathy treatments, including:
- lifestyle changes;
- physical therapy;
- alternative therapies.
Understanding the treatment options available can help you make informed decisions. We will discuss the benefits and limitations of each treatment option. You will know their effectiveness in managing the symptoms of autonomic dysfunction. So continue to read to know more about managing your symptoms and autonomic testing.
What is Autonomic Neuropathy?
Autonomic neuropathies are disorders of the peripheral nerves. These nerves are responsible for the automatic control of processes in the body. Autonomic neuropathies can develop due to:
- autoimmune diseases;
- alcohol abuse;
- certain medications.
Also, you may experience this because of various neurological conditions, like:
- Parkinson’s disease;
- multiple system atrophy;
- peripheral neuropathy.
This nerve damage can cause the autonomic nerves to malfunction. It results in various symptoms:
- dizziness or lightheadedness upon standing up;
- rapid heart rate;
- digestive issues like nausea;
- vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation;
- loss of bladder control;
- changes in sweating patterns.
The treatment for autonomic dysfunction involves managing the underlying cause of the condition. Addressing the specific symptoms experienced by the individual is also essential. Doctors may sometimes recommend medications or physical therapy to help manage symptoms. It is crucial to speak with a healthcare provider if you experience these symptoms.
Autonomic Neuropathy Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of autonomic neuropathy differ. It depends on the affected part of the autonomic nervous system. These include:
- Dizziness and fainting when rising due to a drop in blood pressure.
- Urinary disorders can lead to a urinary tract infection including:
- difficulty urinating;
- urinary incontinence;
- inability to empty the bladder.
- Sexual disorders may need autonomic neuropathy treatment. They can be such as:
- the inability to achieve and maintain an erection (erectile dysfunction);
- problems with ejaculation in men;
- vaginal dryness, and difficulty with arousal and orgasm in women.
- Difficulties with digestion caused by impaired digestive function and delayed stomach emptying (gastroparesis). This can cause:
- a feeling of satiety after eating a small amount of food;
- loss of appetite, diarrhea, constipation;
- abdominal bloating, nausea, vomiting.
- Sweat gland dysfunction, causing either excessive or insufficient sweating. It affects the body’s ability to regulate its temperature. So you have to seek treatment for autonomic dysfunction.
- Retarded pupil response, making it difficult to adapt to changing light levels and making it difficult to drive at night.
- Physical activity intolerance, in which the heart rate does not change.
Treatment for Autonomic Dysfunction
In some cases, it can be mild and manageable with lifestyle changes or medication. While in others, it can be severe and need more intensive treatment. The severity of autonomic neuropathy can vary depending on:
- the extent of nerve damage;
- the condition’s underlying cause.
If you have this disorder, you have to:
- work closely with your healthcare provider to manage your symptoms;
- prevent complications.
This may include regular monitoring of blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Changes to your diet or exercise routine also play an important role. You can take medication to manage symptoms like pain, dizziness, or digestive issues. You can effectively manage the symptoms by doing a test for autonomic neuropathy. The changes in blood pressure and heart rate are then measured as the person is tilted upright. Other types of autonomic testing may include:
- thermoregulatory sweat testing, which measures the body’s ability to sweat and regulate temperature;
- quantitative sudomotor axon reflex testing. It measures the function of small nerve fibers in the skin.
You can read more about the best methods for autonomic dysfunction treatment below.
In many cases, making lifestyle changes can be an autonomic neuropathy treatment. You may do simple things, like:
- increasing fluid and salt intake;
- avoiding triggers that worsen symptoms;
- maintaining a healthy weight.
Additionally, exercises like yoga and meditation can help manage stress.
A neurologist can prescribe several medications to manage the symptoms of the disease. The following medications can help regulate blood pressure and heart rate:
Anticholinergics and anti-nausea drugs can help manage gastrointestinal symptoms.
Physical therapy can help manage autonomic dysfunction symptoms like dizziness and balance issues. It involves exercises to improve:
- muscle strength;
They also can help with postural changes.
This treatment for autonomic dysfunction involves using an electrical device. It can stimulate specific nerves in the body to manage symptoms. Vagus nerve stimulation can help manage gastrointestinal symptoms.
Some people with autonomic dysfunction find relief from symptoms through alternative therapies like:
- chiropractic care.
Some people report positive results. But the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of these therapies is low.
Compression garments can help manage symptoms of autonomic dysfunction, like:
- compression stockings;
- abdominal binders.
You reach it by improving blood flow and preventing blood pooling in the legs. This can help prevent symptoms like dizziness or lightheadedness upon standing.
Autonomic testing is a type of medical evaluation used to diagnose and assess the severity of autonomic dysfunction. This testing typically involves a series of non-invasive tests. They measure the activity of the autonomic nervous system, including:
- heart rate variability;
- skin conductance, and more.
One common test used in autonomic testing is the tilt table test, which involves lying flat on a tilted upward table.
In severe cases of autonomic dysfunction, IV fluids may be necessary. They really help manage symptoms like:
- low blood pressure;
This may involve hospitalization for hydration therapy.
Intravenous (IV) Fluids
In severe cases of autonomic dysfunction, IV fluids may be a necessary autonomic neuropathy treatment. They help manage symptoms like low blood pressure and dehydration. This may involve hospitalization for hydration therapy.
Graded Exercise Therapy (GET)
GET involves gradually increasing physical activity levels under guidance. A healthcare provider or physical therapist should do it. This can help improve cardiovascular health and manage symptoms like:
- shortness of breath.
You can go to our clinic for high-quality medical care in the field of neurology. Professional neurologists will help you with your health issues. The professional team from Lone Star Neurology has enough knowledge and experience to determine the best way to treat you. So, you can get top-notch tests for this disease.
- How is autonomic dysfunction treated?
The treatment for autonomic dysfunction depends on the underlying cause and specific symptoms. It may involve managing the underlying condition, making lifestyle changes such as increasing fluid and salt intake, medications to manage symptoms like blood pressure, pain, or digestive issues, physical therapy, or in severe cases, intravenous fluids or hospitalization. Autonomic testing can help diagnose and guide treatment decisions.
- Can I treat autonomic dysfunction?
You can manage autonomic dysfunction and often improve symptoms with medication, lifestyle changes, and other treatments. While the condition may not be curable in all cases, many people can manage their symptoms. They can maintain a good quality of life with appropriate treatment.
- What kind of doctor treats autonomic dysfunction?
In general, specialists such as neurologists, cardiologists, and endocrinologists may be involved in diagnosing and treating autonomic dysfunction. It is important to choose a highly-qualified professional.
- Is autonomic dysfunction a neurological disorder?
Yes, autonomic dysfunction is considered a type of neurological disorder. As it involves dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. It controls many involuntary bodily functions. However, autonomic dysfunction can also be caused by non-neurological conditions, such as diabetes or certain medications.