Living with diabetes blog

Autonomic neuropathy hits many body functions

By Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N. and Peggy Moreland, R.N. July 13, 2010

Autonomic neuropathy is a nerve disorder that affects involuntary body functions such as digestion, perspiration, blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and changes in the way your eyes adjust to light.

Symptoms include:

  • Bladder problems, including frequent urinary tract infections or urinary incontinence
  • Digestive problems, such as bloating, belching and abdominal pain
  • Constipation, uncontrolled diarrhea or combination of the two
  • Slow stomach emptying (gastroparesis), leading to nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite
  • Erectile dysfunction, which affects more than half the men with diabetes who are age 60 or older
  • Vaginal dryness and other sexual difficulties in women
  • Decreased or increased sweating
  • Inability of your body to adjust blood pressure and heart rate, leading to sharp drops in blood pressure after sitting or standing (orthostatic hypotension)
  • Problems regulating your body temperature
  • Changes in the way your eyes adjust from light to dark
  • Heart rate irregularities and silent heart attacks (the nerves that warn of a potential heart attack may not be working properly, causing no chest pains)

As you can see from the above list, autonomic neuropathy involves multiple systems in your body's functions, from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. Multiple treatments are generally required.

Make sure you have a good yearly physical exam for your diabetes and that your health care provider assesses you for neuropathies.

What are some of your experiences with autonomic neuropathy?

Regards and have a great week.


18 Comments Posted

Jul. 13, 2010