Autonomic Neuropathy – Silent and Serious


 

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar?

∙           Dizziness and fainting when you stand up

∙           Difficulty digesting food and feeling really full when you’ve barely eaten anything

∙           Abnormal perspiration – either sweating excessively or barely at all

∙           Intolerance for exercise – no, not that you just hate it but your heart rate doesn’t adjust as it should

∙           Slow pupil reaction so that your eyes don’t adjust quickly to changes in light

∙           Urinary problems like difficulty starting or inability to completely empty your bladder

If they do, you could have autonomic neuropathy. Especially if you have diabetes, your immune system is compromised by chemotherapy, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, lupus, Guillian-Barre or any other chronic medical condition.

You need to see a doctor immediately.  A good place to start would be a physician well versed in diagnosing and treating nerve disease and damage, like your local NeuropathyDR® clinician.

What Is Autonomic Neuropathy?

Autonomic neuropathy in itself is not a disease[1].  It’s a type of peripheral neuropathy that affects the nerves that control involuntary body functions like heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and perspiration.  The nerves are damaged and don’t function properly leading to a break down of the signals between the brain and the parts of the body affected by the autonomic nervous system like the heart, blood vessels, digestive system and sweat glands.

That can lead to your body being unable to regulate your heart rate or your blood pressure, an inability to properly digest your food, urinary problems, even being unable to sweat in order to cool your body down when you exercise.

Often, autonomic neuropathy is caused by other diseases or medical conditions so if you suffer from

∙           Diabetes

∙           Alcoholism

∙           Cancer

∙           Systemic lupus

∙           Parkinson’s disease

∙           HIV/AIDS

Or any number of other chronic illnesses, you stand a much higher risk of developing autonomic neuropathy.[2] Your best course of action is not to wait until you develop symptoms.  Begin a course of preventative treatment and monitoring with a NeuropathyDR® clinician to lessen your chances of developing autonomic neuropathy.

How Will My NeuropathyDR® Diagnose My Autonomic Neuropathy?

If you have diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDs or any of the other diseases or chronic conditions that can cause autonomic neuropathy, it’s much easier to diagnose autonomic neuropathy.  After all, as a specialist in nerve damage and treatment, your NeuropathyDR®  is very familiar with your symptoms and the best course of treatment.

If you have symptoms of autonomic neuropathy and don’t have any of the underlying conditions, your diagnosis will be a little tougher but not impossible.

Either way, your NeuropathyDR® clinician will take a very thorough history and physical.  Make sure you have a list of all your symptoms, when they began, how severe they are, what helps your symptoms or makes them worse, and any and all medications your currently take (including over the counter medications, herbal supplements or vitamins).

Be honest with your NeuropathyDR® clinician about your diet, alcohol intake, frequency of exercise, history of drug use and smoking.  If you don’t tell the truth, you’re not giving your NeuropathyDR® clinician a clear picture of your physical condition.  That’s like asking them to drive you from Montreal to Mexico City without a map or a GPS.  You may eventually get to where you want to be, but it’s highly unlikely.

Once your history and physical are completed, your NeuropathyDR® clinician will order some tests. Depending upon your actual symptoms and which systems seem to be affected, these tests might include:

∙           Ultrasound

∙           Urinalysis and bladder function tests

∙           Thermoregulatory and/or QSART sweat tests

∙           Gastrointestinal tests

∙           Breathing tests

∙           Tilt-table tests (to test your heart rate and blood pressure regulation)

Once your tests are completed and your NeuropathyDR® clinician determines you have autonomic neuropathy, it’s time for treatment.

Treatment and Prognosis

NeuropathyDR® clinicians are well versed in treating all types of peripheral neuropathy, including autonomic neuropathy.  They adhere to a very specialized treatment protocol that was developed specifically for patients suffering from neuropathy.  That’s why their treatments have been so successful – neuropathy in all its forms is what they do.

Autonomic neuropathy is a chronic condition but it can be treated and you can do things to help relieve your symptoms.

Your NeuropathyDR® clinician will work with you and your other physicians to treat your neuropathy and manage your underlying condition.  They do this through:

∙           Diet Planning and Nutritional Support

You need to give your body the nutrition it needs to heal.

If you have gastrointestinal issues caused by autonomic neuropathy, you need to make  sure you’re getting enough fiber and fluids to help your body function properly.

If you have diabetes, you need to follow a diet specifically designed for diabetics and  to control your blood sugar.

If your autonomic neuropathy affects your urinary system, you need to retrain your bladder.  You can do this by following a schedule of when to drink and when to empty your bladder to slowly increase your bladder’s capacity.

∙          Individually Designed Exercise Programs

If you experience exercise intolerance or blood pressure problems resulting from  autonomic neuropathy, you have to be every careful with your exercise program.  Make sure that you don’t overexert yourself, take it slowly.  Your NeuropathyDR® clinician  can design an exercise program specifically for you that will allow you to exercise but             won’t push you beyond what your body is capable of.  And, even more importantly, they will continually monitor your progress and adjust your program as needed.

∙           Lifestyle Modifications

If your autonomic neuropathy causes dizziness when you stand up, then do it slowly and in stages.  Flex your feet or grip your hands several times before you attempt to stand to  increase the flow of blood to your hands and feet.  Try just sitting on the side of your bed in the morning for a few minutes before you try to stand.

Change the amount and frequency of your meals if you have digestive problems.

Don’t try to do everything all at once.  Decide what really needs to be done each day and do what you can.  Autonomic neuropathy is a chronic disorder and living with any chronic condition requires adaptations.  Your NeuropathyDR® clinician knows this all too well and will work with you to manage your level of stress and change your daily routines to help you manage your condition and your life.

All of these changes in conjunction with medications, where needed, will make it easier to live with autonomic neuropathy and lessen the chances of serious complications.  Early intervention with a NeuropathyDR® clinician is still the best policy if you have any of the underlying conditions that can cause autonomic neuropathy.  But if you already have symptoms, start treatment immediately.

For more information on coping with autonomic neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com.

 

 

 

 

Is Your Diet Affecting Your Neuropathy?

The next time you have a headache…

Or indigestion…

Or even muscle cramps or twitching…

Go online and “Google” any of those terms and see what you come up with.

I’m willing to bet you’ll be terrified by the results.

For headache you’ll see anything from brain tumor to bleeding in the brain to meningitis and encephalitis.

Indigestion will lead you to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcer disease, cancer, or even abnormality of the pancreas or bile ducts.

And muscle cramps or twitching will run the gamut from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease to ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Your search will also give you the more common reasons for any of these symptoms.  Many people latch on to the more dramatic reasons and begin living like every day is their last.[1]

Others will downplay symptoms, assume that they have something simple to treat and go to the corner drug store and buy whatever over the counter remedy “seems” to treat their symptoms.

Either of these reactions could be courting disaster.  Especially if you have a condition that can lead to peripheral neuropathy.  Delaying treatment with your local NeuropathyDR® clinician can lead to severe lifelong nerve damage that will destroy your quality of life.

Expecting the Worst

If you fall into the “I know I’m dying” category, you will probably begin doctor shopping.  Going from specialist to specialist looking for someone to confirm the worst.  Even beyond the physical damage the stress of this process can do to your body, your emotional well-being is destroyed.

You live day to day expecting the worst with the specter of the Grim Reaper hanging over your shoulder.  That is no way to live.

The first thing you need to do is make appointment with your primary care provider, preferably a NeuropathyDR® clinician.  Tell them your symptoms and let them do some diagnostic testing.  If the results warrant it, they will get you started on a treatment protocol to not only alleviate your symptoms but treat the root cause of your medical problem.  The NeuropathyDR® treatment protocol includes nutrition counseling, diet planning, stress management techniques, and hands on adjustment to properly align your nervous system.

If you actually do have a serious condition, the earlier you start this process, the better off you’ll be.  The earlier you receive treatment for any condition that can lead to peripheral neuropathy, the less your chances of permanent nerve damage.

Ignoring the Obvious

The other end of the spectrum is the patient who does their own research, opts for the condition easily treatable with over the counter meds, and puts off seeing a specialist until their symptoms are much worse.

Let’s take the muscle twitching or cramping symptom as an example.  Yes, this could be caused by overworking the muscle or even a vitamin deficiency.   Either of those are easy to fix.

But what if it’s something more serious?

If the condition lasts longer than a few days, you need to see your local NeuropathyDR® clinician. You could have a condition leading to peripheral neuropathy.  Failing to treat the underlying cause quickly can lead to lasting nerve damage, muscle degeneration, and ultimately, even amputation of the affected limb.[2]

Something as simple as seeing a specialist well versed in conditions affecting the bones, muscles and bones, like your local NeuropathyDR® clinician, can make the difference between life in a wheelchair and getting back to normal quickly.

Cyberchondria vs. Informed Caution

Before you think we’re advocating running to the doctor every time you have a hang nail, that is definitely not the case.  We’re not advocating the spread of Cyberchondria[3] (i.e., the rising epidemic of online diagnosis and treatment), just asking that you approach any medical condition with informed caution.

An informed and educated patient is a gift for any physician.  Informed patients are much more likely to participate in their own care and keep their physician apprised of any changes in their condition.  That’s a win for both sides.

Instead of using the internet as a tool to diagnose (or, in many cases, misdiagnose) your own conditions, choose to use it as a means of educating yourself enough to provide your health care provider with all the information he needs to accurately and quickly diagnose your illness.

You’ll be making your life, and your NeuropathyDR® clinician’s life, much easier.

For more information on coping with your peripheral neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com.

 

Neuropathy and Nutrition

If you suffer from peripheral neuropathy brought on by any of these medical issues:

·           Diabetes

·           Post-chemotherapy

·           Shingles

·           Guillian Barre Syndrome

·           Lyme Disease

Or any one of a multitude of other health problems and your over-the-counter or even prescribed medication isn’t helping, you may be overlooking a very important link in the management of your neuropathy and your neuropathy pain.  You may be missing a key element in your peripheral neuropathy treatment plan.

Look at what you’re feeding your body.

Many of the side effects from peripheral neuropathy you’re experiencing can be brought under control or possibly eliminated by following a good nutrition plan.

What Exactly Is “Good Nutrition”?

We hear so much today about the value of a good diet yet few people actually think about what they feed their bodies on a daily basis and what that food does to them.

A good way of thinking about it is “garbage in, garbage out”.  It’s like putting a really cheap grade of gas into a Formula One race car.  It may fuel the car, for maybe 100 feet from the starting line, but after that, the engine will sputter, stall and eventually just stop.  It certainly won’t run at peak performance.

The same thing happens over time when we put bad food into our bodies.  People who suffer from peripheral neuropathy are even more susceptible to the effects of poor nutrition.

Good nutrition involves putting the right mix of nutrients in the right amounts into your body.  The right mix of protein, good fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals (and staying properly hydrated) all comprise a good diet.  Even if you’re eating enough during the day, if you’re not getting the right mix of the ingredients that your body needs to function, you could be suffering from malnutrition.

Malnutrition leads to a host of medical problems and sometimes serious diseases, including diabetes.  If you already suffer from peripheral neuropathy, you’re just making the problem worse by not giving your body the basic building blocks it needs to repair itself.

All the medications in every big pharmaceutical lab on the planet won’t fix your body if you don’t give it what it needs to fix itself.

The Link Between Nutrition and Neuropathy Treatment

Food is fuel.  It’s what the body needs to function properly and support us in our daily lives. If you’re eating a healthy diet and giving the body what it needs to support you and take care of itself, it can not only lessen the effects of your neuropathy, it can even help you avoid other complications.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last 20 or 30 years, you know the benefits of a healthy diet.  Significant medical evidence has shown that, especially in the elderly and diabetics (two populations with a high incidence of neuropathy), a healthy diet can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, even certain types of cancer.

If you already suffer from neuropathy and you develop any of these other complications, your condition will be even more serious than for someone who doesn’t suffer from neuropathy.

For example, you already know that neuropathy can affect your sense of touch.

A further complication of that loss of sensation is that it can make it more likely that you will fall and possibly suffer broken bones.  If your body doesn’t have the materials available internally to help mend those bones, your healing process can be severely compromised.

Even if your neuropathy is being treated with NeuropathyDR™ systems or other medical intervention, you still need a healthy diet to give your body and your mind what it needs to heal itself.  It will help you keep your energy level high for your therapy sessions, keep your mind sharp to follow the doctor’s instructions and may even eliminate the need for medications with serious side effects.

NeuropathyDR™ Clinicians are up to date on the best diets for your particular case. Keep in mind that we’ll also typically recommend oral and sometimes topical nutrition supplements and dietary programs.

Does What You Eat Really Affect Your Neuropathy?

In a word, yes.  If you want to be healthy and control or even stop disease, you have to eat a healthy diet.  You can’t continue to put junk into your body and not expect the body to deteriorate.  Especially if you already suffer from any of the health problems that lead to neuropathy.

One of the main components in diabetic neuropathy is metabolic syndrome.  And that’s brought on by high blood sugar  levels, high fat levels in the blood, and low insulin.  If you’re not putting foods into your body that create those problems, you’ve already won half the battle.

Even beyond the blood sugar issues faced by diabetics, other neuropathy sufferers can be affected by diet as well.  If you suffer from neuropathy, regardless of whether or not you have diabetes, here are some other problems you may be facing due to your diet:

  • Vitamin deficiencies – One of the most common is the lack of B-12.  Even if you ‘re taking a supplement, your body may not be absorbing it properly and that can cause anemia and/or nervous system disorders.  Talk to your NeuropathyDR™ Clinician about testing and what you can do to make sure you’re getting the right vitamins and minerals in the right amounts.
  • Alcohol abuse – In addition to what excessive use of alcohol does to the liver and kidneys, it can also lead to nutritional deficiencies because your body doesn’t properly absorb what you put into it.  If you suffer from any form of neuropathy, your best course of action is to lay off alcohol.
  • Cancer – Studies have found a direct relation between certain types of cancer and poor diet and lack of antioxidants.  Also, if you smoke, stop now.  Cancer is one of the leading  risks of smoking and other unhealthy habits but if you have neuropathy and you smoke, you’re a ticking time bomb.

Above all else, the best way to help your body fight your neuropathy symptoms is to give it the tools it needs to do it.  Talk to your local NeuropathyDR™ Clinician about what you can do, in addition to their treatment, to feed your body well and give yourself everything you need to repair your body and fight your neuropathy symptoms.

Subscribe to our Weekly Ezine at “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com to get your life back.

Metabolic Syndrome Hitting younger and harder…

Metabolic syndrome used to be called pre-diabetes. It is a devastating syndrome where blood sugar and blood fats are not handled properly, predisposing us to heart and vascular illnesses, diabetes of course. The frightening thing is how often so many professionals don’t stress its significance and preventive strategies in daily practice. We are seeing more and more of it in younger ages, where the first presenting sign is peripheral neuropathy. We’ll have way more on this next time.

Prevent Metabolic Syndrome with Healthy Lifestyle

How Do I Know If I Have Peripheral Neuropathy?

Knowing if you have peripheral neuropathy  should be very straightforward. Unfortunately, patients with peripheral neuropathy suffer greatly. In my experience and the experience of many physicians, patients have symptoms for years, which gradually build to a crescendo before they present to our offices.

These symptoms initially may include such things as mild loss of sensation of the hands and the feet, progressive  worsening of tingling and numbness that will oftentimes wake the patient at night, or completely disturbed sleep.

We also find that many patients with peripheral neuropathy have a combination of these most annoying symptoms. This could include not only the presence of tingling and numbness but shooting pains. I have had many patients tell me that one of the most annoying symptoms, especially in colder climates, is the coolness of the feet as well as the (trophic) changes that occur in the skin.  Sometimes, that is extreme dryness, cracking, fragility etc.

The diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy really is a diagnosis of exclusion. I tell my doctors this all the time. It is very important to have a doctor working with you, who is able to perform the most thorough evaluation possible,  evaluate all most your records to make sure that all correctible causes of peripheral neuropathy have been addressed. If a root cause can be identified it should be addressed as completely as is medically and humanly possible.

A diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy is more about making sure of everything it’s not. Therefore, our client doctors who take care of peripheral neuropathy patients commonly work with many physicians of other disciplines. The reasons for this should be quite obvious. It is very important that all the things we spoke about earlier, such as family history, genetics, medication usage, etc are all accounted for.

We also have to be on the lookout for iatrogenically caused neuropathy from medical care such as chemotherapy for cancer or other illnesses.

Another area which concerns me greatly is when patients self-medicate with over-the-counter medications or maybe even herbal preparations that possibly could be contaminated with heavy metals or plant toxins. I strongly advise you to seek professional counseling before creating irreversible damage to your liver or kidneys.