Autonomic neuropathy is a group of symptoms that occur when there is damage to the nerves that manage every day body functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, sweating, bowel and bladder emptying, and digestion.
Neuropathy - autonomic; Autonomic nerve disease
Autonomic neuropathy is a group of symptoms, not a specific disease. There are many causes.
Autonomic neuropathy involves damage to the nerves that carry information from the brain and spinal cord to the heart, blood vessels, bladder, intestines, sweat glands, and pupils.
How well you do will depend on the cause of the problem and if it can be treated.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call for an appointment with your doctor 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, you may only feel sudden fatigue, sweating, shortness of breath, nausea, and vomiting during a heart attack.
Preventing or controlling disorders associated with autonomic neuropathy may reduce the risk related to the disorder. For example, people with diabetes should closely control blood sugar levels.
Chelimsky T, Robertson D, Chelimsky G. Disorders of the autonomic nervous system. In: Daroff: Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA; Elsevier; 2012: chap 77.
Joseph V. Campellone, M.D., Division of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.