Autonomic Neuropathy is a group of symptoms caused by damage to nerves that regulate blood pressure, heart rate, bowel and bladder emptying, digestion, and other body functions. Autonomic Neuropathy is a form of peripheral Neuropathy.
Autonomic Neuropathy is a group of symptoms, not a specific disease. Autonomic Neuropathy involves damage to the nerves that run through a part of the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system includes the nerves used for communication to and from the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) and all other parts of the body, including the internal organs, muscles, skin, and blood vessels.
Damage to the autonomic nerves causes abnormal or decreased function of the areas connected to the problem nerve. For example, damage to the nerves of the gastrointestinal tract makes it harder to move food during digestion (decreased gastric mobility). Damage to the nerves supplying blood vessels causes problems with blood pressure and body temperature.
The autonomic nervous system consists of sensory neurons and motor neurons that run between the central nervous system (especially thehypothalamus and medulla oblongata) and various internal organs. Your nervous system is involved in everything your body does, from regulating your breathing to controlling your muscles and sensing heat and cold.
Nerve pain and damage can seriously affect your quality of life because nerves are essential to all you do. With nerve damage there can be many symptoms. Your symptomes will depend on the location and type of nerves that are affected. Damage can occur to nerves in your brain and spinal cord. It can also occur in the peripheral nerves, which are located throughout the rest of your body. In some instances, people with nerve damage will have symptoms that indicate damage to two, or even three, different types of nerves. For instance, you might experience weakness and burning of your legs at the same time.
These nerves control the involuntary or partially voluntary activities of your body, including heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and temperature regulation.
Autonomic Nerve damage may produce the following symptoms:
- inability to sense chest pain, such as angina or heart attack
- too much sweating (known as hyperhidrosis) or too little sweating (known as anhidrosis)
- dry eyes and mouth
- bladder dysfunction
- sexual dysfunction
These nerves control your movements and actions by passing information from your brain and spinal cord to your muscles.
Motor Nerves may produce the following symptoms:
- muscle atrophy
- twitching, also known as fasciculation
These nerves relay information from your skin and muscles back to your spinal cord and brain. The information is then processed to let you feel pain and other sensations.
Sensory Nerve damage may produce the following symptoms:
- tingling or prickling
- problems with positional awareness