Symptoms are related to the type of affected nerve and may be seen over a period of days, weeks, or years. Muscle weakness is the most common symptom of motor nerve damage. Other symptoms may include painful cramps, uncontrolled muscle twitching, muscle loss, bone degeneration, and changes in the skin, hair, and nails. These more general degenerative changes also can result from sensory or autonomic nerve fiber loss.
Symptoms of autonomic nerve damage are diverse and depend upon which organs or glands are affected. Autonomic nerve dysfunction can become life threatening and may require emergency medical care in cases when breathing becomes impaired or when the heart begins beating irregularly. Common symptoms of autonomic nerve damage include an inability to sweat normally, which may lead to heat intolerance; a loss of bladder control, which may cause infection or incontinence; and an inability to control muscles that expand or contract blood vessels to maintain safe blood pressure levels. A loss of control over blood pressure can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, or even fainting when a person moves suddenly from a seated to a standing position (a condition known as postural or orthostatic hypotension).
Gastrointestinal symptoms frequently accompany autonomic neuropathy. Nerves controlling intestinal muscle contractions often malfunction, leading to diarrhea, constipation, or incontinence. Many people also have problems eating or swallowing if certain autonomic nerves are affected.
To schedule an appointment for a consultation, please contact our Balance Clinic at (727) 461-8635.
The Neurosciences Institute
Ptak Orthopaedic & Neuroscience Pavilion
430 Morton Plant Street
Clearwater, FL 33756