Autonomic dysfunction treatment
When various bodily functions are impaired due to nerve damage, it is called an autonomic nervous system disorder. In addition, many people indicate stress or anxiety related to dysfunction. Depending on the leading symptom, the patient is observed by a therapist, neurologist, endocrinologist or another doctor. Treatment aims to improve quality of life and handle symptoms with individual drug therapy and lifestyle modifications.
The autonomic nervous system regulates involuntary activities such as heart and breathing rates, body temperature, digestion, etc. When nerves are damaged, autonomic dysfunction can occur (also called autonomic neuropathy). Physicians don’t mention autonomic neuropathy as a life-threatening condition. Nevertheless, it may indicate the impact of serious diseases, such as:
- Parkinson’s syndrome;
- Physical issues, pregnancy;
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV);
- Autoimmune illness (Guillain-Barre syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, myasthenia gravis).
Notably, side effects from some drugs can cause autonomic dysfunction. The autonomic disorder includes a wide range of signs, depending on the affected nerve:
- Panic attacks;
- Dizziness, loss of consciousness after standing up;
- Sweating, excessive salivation or watery eyes;
- Feeling hot or cold (due to constriction or dilation of blood vessels);
- Intestinal disorders (constipation, diarrhoea) or bladder problems (inability to empty the bladder).
The neurologist thoroughly collects a medical history and examines all body systems to diagnose autonomic nervous system disorder. Autonomic function tests (tilt-table, thermoregulatory sweat, and others) are used to determine the condition. To find the cause of an autonomic disease or to exclude problems from organs, doctors conduct blood and urine tests, ultrasound, and gastrointestinal tests.
Initially, physicians treat the underlying disease. Other care approaches focus on psychotherapy and lifestyle changes. Medication therapy can manage some symptoms, and it is critically to select the therapy plan individually in each case. In complex treatment, it is necessary to add physiotherapy or rehabilitation (massage, exercise therapy, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, training, etc.).