Although diabetics that suffer from type i and type ii diabetes are quite susceptible to contracting diabetic neuropathies including diabetic autonomic neuropathy, non diabetics too should get regular checkups to stay alert to the dangers of non diabetic autonomic neuropathy.
Diabetics have constant high sugar levels, which over time result in poor blood circulation and nerve damage. This affects the functioning of various organs of their body and can result in different neuropathies depending on the organ that is affected. Hence in Focal neuropathy, organs such as eyes and the facial muscles can get affected while in Proximal neuropathy, the thighs, buttocks and legs get inversely affected. Peripheral neuropathy causes tingling, numbness and cutting or searing pain in the arms, legs, fingers and toes while Autonomic neuropathy attacks critical organs such as the heart, lungs, digestive tract, genital organs and can also affect bowel and bladder movements. These neuropathies remain the same whether the patient is diabetic or not although the causes could differ due to the presence or absence of blood sugar and other factors.
Non diabetic autonomic neuropathy can be caused by vitamin B12 deficiencies, Guillain Barre syndrome, neoplasia and alcohol among others. Diabetics or even non diabetics that notice a sudden change in their bowel or bladder habits, experience breathing trouble or feel that their heartbeat experiences sudden increases on changing their position or upon exertion should contact their doctor immediately. Patients that notice any inverse change in their sexual activity along with any physical symptoms such as vaginal dryness or erection problems should also consult their doctor. Diabetics should be extra careful since diabetic autonomic neuropathy can cause loss in sensing diabetic hypoglycemia, i.e. any sudden drop in blood sugar levels.
Doctors can conduct various tests to determine the onset of autonomic neuropathy. Electromyography or emg tests, which test the nerves responses to electrical impulses along with other tests to check the responses to temperature, vibration or pin-pricks can also be used to determine the status of the patient. Diabetics stand a higher chance of testing positive after a prolonged battle with the disease but other factors such as physical damage of certain nerves or compression of nerves can also result in the onset of certain neuropathies. If there are changes in the intestine, bowel or bladder routines, then an endoscopy or barium tests might be required.
Usually, non diabetic autonomic neuropathy can be treated by medications or surgery depending on the causes and the organ affected. Hence if the neuropathy is caused by vitamin B12 deficiency, then regular shots of vitamin B12 might even reverse the symptoms within a short time. However, if any nerves are permanently damaged, then the chances of a full recovery are remote. However, other complex causes might only leave doctors with an option of slowing down the disease especially if the patient has visited the doctor at a very late stage.
Although diabetics have a high chance of getting afflicted with autonomic neuropathy, non diabetic autonomic neuropathy can also be caused due to various reasons mentioned above and a combination of medicines, surgery and in some cases physical and occupational therapy or ot can be used to provide relief to patients.
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