Did you know that 1 in 15 Americans have neuropathy? Though we may think that we are fairly healthy, our odds of developing this condition are more likely than we think.
Since neuropathy is a disorder of the nervous system, which controls our body's functions, its symptoms can disrupt our daily lives, and treatment is a little more complicated. The prevalence and effects of neuropathy make it important to understand this condition, so we can be more mindful of how we treat our bodies and know what we should do if we see its symptoms develop within us.
There are different kinds of neuropathy, but by far the most common is peripheral neuropathy, which affects the peripheral nervous system. This system is further divided into two parts and controls a wide range of our bodily functions: from our muscles to our sensory receptors to the lining of our organs. So to have a better understanding of neuropathy in its entirety, it is essential to go over those branches.
In this blog, we’ll be focusing our attention on one branch of neuropathy: autonomic.
Autonomic neuropathy is neuropathy of the autonomic nervous system, which falls under the peripheral nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is responsible for regulating a wide range of involuntary processes, such as:
When damage occurs within the autonomic nervous system, it disrupts the link between these critical organs and the brain, causing our normal bodily functions to be in flux.
The symptoms for autonomic neuropathy vary depending on which areas and/or organs are damaged. But some of the most common symptoms are dizziness and fainting, disruptions in digestive processes and arousal, and problems with urination, sweating, and vision.
Diabetes has long been one of the leading causes of this condition. However, because autonomic neuropathy is so broad, other common causes can include:
Autoimmune afflictions (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, lupus)
Amyloidosis, or excessive protein buildup in the organs
Chemotherapy (for cancer patients) Spinal cord injuries
Excessive alcohol drinking
You may notice that most of its causes stem from prolonged health conditions and bad habits that damage the body. This underlines the fact that neuropathy often develops slowly and gradually. While some diseases and conditions are unavoidable, a healthy lifestyle can help maintain your body’s functionality.
As a branch of peripheral neuropathy, the diagnosis for autonomic neuropathy also includes checking the patient’s symptoms, risk factors, and medical history and conducting a series of medical tests. Though treatment depends on the affected area, prescribed medications are usually the standard treatment procedure. But although these can help alleviate the symptoms and pain, note that they do not promote healing
However, there are treatments that do actively promote recovery. These non-invasive, alternative treatments are proven to stimulate healing within the nervous system and restore functionality. If you wish to learn about these new treatment methods, you should check out what our very own Dr. Beyer has in store for you.