Common SDS – MSA Symptoms?

The clinical findings can be divided into two categories: Early and late stage autonomic dysfunction, and non-autonomic problems.

Early autonomic symptoms of SDS/MSA include the following:

Impotence and “neurogenic bladder”, usually associated with urinary incontinence. Most patients complain of severe constipation and later develop rectal incontinence.

Neurogenic Orthostatic Hypotension (NOH) is a universal feature of SDS/MSA and is usually manifested by light-headedness or dizziness when changing position from lying to sitting or from sitting to standing. This is due to low blood pressure and inadequate blood perfusion of the brain. When orthostatic hypotension becomes severe (i.e. blood pressure of less than 70/40) this may lead to momentary loss of consciousness or syncope. When the patient falls to a prone position, the blood pressure returns toward normal and the patient will regain consciousness.

Many patients also complain of dry mouth and dry skin, and because of abnormal sweating have problems with regulation of body temperature.

The autonomic nervous system is also responsible for constriction and dilation of pupils. Some patients with SDS complain of difficulties with focusing and other visual symptoms.

Later stage autonomic symptoms include the following:

As a result of autonomic dysfunction, some patients develop breathing problems including loud respiration (stridor) and cessation of breathing during sleep (sleep apnea). Irregularities in heart beat may be responsible for demise in some patients with SDS.

Non-Autonomic Symptoms

The non-autonomic symptoms include Parkinsonism (slowness of movement, stiffness of muscles, mild tremors, and loss of balance), difficulty moving eyes causing double vision and problems with focusing, problems controlling emotions and wasting of muscles. During the final stages of the disease, patients have trouble chewing, swallowing, speaking and breathing.

Diagnosing Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) – Shy-Drager Syndrome (SDS)

Read our glossary of SDS/MSA terms

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