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Autonomic Neuropathy Screening Update for People with Type 1 Diabetes

If you’ve lived “long enough” with Type 1 Diabetes, you should consider getting screened for Autonomic Neuropathy.

A study gathered information from 965 participants in the T1D Exchange to find the percentage of people with Type 1 Diabetes for 5 or more years who are living with symptomatic autonomic neuropathy.

According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms of autonomic neuropathy include:

  • A lack of awareness that blood sugar levels are low (hypoglycemia unawareness)
  • Bladder or bowel problems.
  • Slow stomach emptying (gastroparesis), causing nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
  • Changes in the way your eyes adjust from light to dark.
  • Decreased sexual response.

The study demonstrates that 17% of the respondents have symptomatic autonomic neuropathy. Of those with symptoms, 72% report the symptoms are moderate or severe.  People dealing with symptomatic autonomic neuropathy had higher average A1Cs, had diabetes longer than those without symptomatic autonomic neuropathy, were more likely to be female, and were more likely to have a lower income.   The people reporting symptomatic autonomic neuropathy had a higher risk for peripheral neuropathy, cardiovascular disease, anxiety, or depression.  They also had a higher likelihood of smoking and/or opioid pain medication use.

Look over the list of autonomic neuropathy symptoms on the American Diabetes Association’s website and report any symptoms to your Endocrinologist, your Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, and your Primary Care Provider.   Discussing symptoms is important to address any underlying safety risks, additional screening or testing that may be needed, and to outline a treatment plan to address the symptoms.

Study Source:

T1D Exchange Clinic Network (Accepted/In press). Symptomatic diabetic autonomic neuropathy in type 1 diabetes (T1D): Findings from the T1D exchange. Journal of Diabetes and Its Complications, [108148]. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2022.108148

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