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What Are the Treatments for Autonomic Nervous System Dysfunction?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2016
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Treatment for autonomic nervous system dysfunction is aimed at identifying and managing individual symptoms, as each patient is affected differently. Some of the most common types of treatment methods include dietary changes, lifestyle modification, and the use of over-the-counter or prescription medications. Psychological therapy or counseling may be indicated in certain situations. Some severe forms may require surgical intervention. Any specific questions or concerns about the most appropriate treatment methods for autonomic nervous system dysfunction in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Orthostatic hypotension is a common symptom and describes a medical situation in which the blood pressure drops dramatically when standing, often causing severe dizzy spells. While prescription medications are frequently used to treat this condition, a few lifestyle changes may help as well. Patients are often advised to stand slowly from a seated position and encouraged to eat smaller, more frequent meals.

Constipation is a frequently reported problem among those with autonomic nervous system dysfunction. This condition is usually treated with a high-fiber diet and the use of over-the-counter laxatives or stool softeners. Anxiety may be treated with prescription medications, counseling, or a combination of the two. Erectile dysfunction may occur in men with this condition and is typically treated with prescription medications.

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A decreased ability to sweat occurs in a large number of patients with autonomic nervous system dysfunction. Avoiding excessively warm environments or taking frequent cool showers may be helpful for those with this symptom. Eye drops may be used to treat dry eyes, while ice chips or hard candy can help keep the mouth lubricated. Patients who exhibit problems swallowing or breathing may require surgical intervention to stretch the esophagus or open the airways.

Heart problems may occur as a result of this disorder, sometimes becoming severe enough to require surgical intervention. Medications and dietary changes can help control high blood pressure in most cases. If the heart valves or other circulatory structures do not function properly, surgical repair sometimes becomes necessary.

The various symptoms of autonomic nervous system dysfunction vary widely from one patient to another and may even change periodically for each individual patient. Close medical supervision is essential for those with this disorder so that the supervising physician can detect any changes or developing complications in the earliest stages.

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