symptoms and treatments of diabetic autonomic neuropathy

Diabetics need to fight not only the disease but also various complications that it brings along. Diabetic neuropathy is one such complication that is caused by poor blood supply and nerve damage to a diabetic’s body. One such silent complication that attacks from within the body is diabetic autonomic neuropathy. Here are the symptoms and treatments for diabetic autonomic neuropathy.

Over a period of time, high blood glucose fluctuations can lead to nerve damage and impaired blood circulation, which can result in specific organs of the body getting impaired or damaged. There are 4 types of diabetic neuropathy, namely peripheral, focal, proximal and lastly autonomic neuropathy that can affect different functions and organs of the body. Diabetic autonomic neuropathy affects the nerves related to the functioning of the heart, lungs, digestion, perspiration, bladder, bowels, salivation and vision. It is very difficult to diagnose the onset of this type of neuropathy since there is no associated tingling, pain or numbness, which is usually found in other types of neuropathy. Another problem in catching the symptoms is that it is sometimes confused with other minor ailments such as an upset stomach, etc.

The symptoms depend on the organs that get affected with the onset of diabetic autonomic neuropathy. Hence patients could develop gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, heartburn, vomiting, which in turn can also cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate wildly. Other symptoms include urinary tract infections and incontinence in case the urinary bladder is affected. In case the disease affects the patient’s sexual organs, then it could cause erectile dysfunction or vaginal dryness depending on the sex of the patient. This disease can also affect the sweat glands thus leading to excessive sweating or even extremely dry skin, which again can open the way for skin infections. Patients that have diabetic autonomic neuropathy can also become victims of hypoglycemic unawareness or even suffer silent heart attacks, which could prove to be extremely dangerous.

While medications and surgery can be used to treat specific cases of diabetic autonomic neuropathy, antioxidants such as alpha lipoic acid too have shown positive results in trials in Europe. This treatment can be used on humans and select pets such as dogs and hamsters although cats cannot be treated due to a toxic reaction by this antioxidant with its liver. Patients should also consume enough liquids to keep their skin hydrated and should also go in for smaller, low-fat and low-fiber meals to improve digestion and regularize bladder movements. Adequate exercises to build up muscle tissue and burn excess fat along with a strict insulin monitoring and delivery schedule is a must for diabetics that need to avoid the onset of diabetic neuropathy. Diabetics should also take adequate care of their skin and also observe the physical condition of their hands and feet on a daily basis.

Diabetics should regularly check-in for check-ups and consult their doctor before making any changes to their diet or insulin delivery schedules. Each medicine or injection should also be cleared by their doctor. Any symptoms related to diabetic autonomic neuropathy should be followed up immediately instead of waiting until it becomes too late to reverse or arrest the effects.

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