Autonomic dysfunction occurs when the nerves that control the automatic functions in the body become damaged. Examples of this are digestion, bladder function (sometimes referred to as neurogenic bladder), blood pressure, temperature and sexual function. This is referred to as autonomic neuropathy. Brain signals to the autonomic nervous system become interrupted. Most of the times we hear about neuropathy is with diabetes, but it can occur in other disease.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are a number of symptoms that may be present. Dizziness and fainting may occur. For me, this began eight months before my diagnosis and continued for four months after diagnosis. Dehydration can even be a cause of this, but also nerve damage can cause it. I was ultimately diagnosed with neuro-cardiogenic syncope (stand up and would pass out) nine months prior to my diagnosis of LBD.
The urinary system may be involved....causing symptoms such as difficulty starting, inability to empty the bladder, not realizing the bladder is full and incontinence. Anticholinergic drugs are often used with urinary system issues; however, these would likely not be the drug of choice for someone with dementia. In situations not controlled with conventional drugs, Botox injections might be used via cystoscopy. My urologist has told me in the appropriate situation, Botox has yielded good results for this.
Difficulty digesting food has been a problem for me over the last fifteen months. It has seemed that the food hangs up in my upper digestive system and then is slow to follow the process to emptying. Some of the symptoms that may be seen in these digestive issues are nausea, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, heartburn, abdominal bloating, feeling full after a few bites, constipation and diarrhea. Recently, I have been fortunate to adjust dosages of three medications that is making life much better.
Sweating issues may also occur.....there may be excess sweating or decreased sweating. Mine has fluctuated between the two.
I will cover only one more symptom......sluggish pupil reaction. This makes it difficult to adjust from light to dark making it difficult to drive a night. I have noticed especially in using my iPhone sometimes.
According to the National Parkinson's Foundation, it takes the stomach longer to empty, and it also takes longer for the food to move through the intestines with Parkinson's Disease. Abnormal protein deposits called Lewy bodies have been discovered in the intestines. With Lewy bodies in in the brain and in the intestines in Parkinson's disease has led researchers to believe that constipation is likely a core symptom of the disease.
We know that Lewy body disease (LBD) is a complex disease that reaches well beyond memory issues creating a "roller coaster ride". The one thing that is predictable about LBD is that it is unpredictable.
© 2016 Robert Bowles
Robert Bowles, Jr.