Understanding Shy-Drager Syndrome

Shy-Drager syndrome is a type of degenerative neurological disorder that affects middle-aged adults. This disorder usually develops during adulthood and starts to show up in people aged 50 years and above. The disorder affects parts of the brain and the central nervous system.

Causes of shy-drager syndrome

Shy-Drager syndrome is closely associated with the shrinkage and deterioration of some parts of the brain, notably the basal ganglia, cerebellum and the brain stem.

These are the parts of the brain involved with regulating internal body functions, digestion and motor skills. But the underlying cause of the disease still remains unknown. Research on the disease now deals with finding a genetic or even an environmental component that may lead to the development of the disease.

Symptoms of shy-drager syndrome

Many of the symptoms associated with Shy-Drager syndrome come as a result of impairment of the autonomic nervous system. This system controls the involuntary and internal processes of the body which includes heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and bladder function. The said impairment is due to the gradual deterioration of some parts of the brain.

A typical symptom of Shy-Drager syndrome is the sudden decrease of blood pressure especially when standing up or while standing still. The sudden drop in blood pressure would then lead one to feel dizzy and lightheaded.

A certain malfunction in the body’s blood pressure control functions due to the disease may also lead to sudden increases in blood pressure when one is on a reclining position. Other associated symptoms include rigid muscles and stiff joints, impaired body temperature control, loss of bowel and bladder control as well as speech difficulties.

How shy-drager syndrome is diagnosed?

There is no single test that can help doctors diagnose Shy-Drager syndrome. Doctors also find it difficult in diagnosing the condition since some of the symptoms associated with Shy-Drager are also similar to conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. Doctors depend on a thorough medical assessment of patients suspected with Shy-Drager syndrome in order to avoid misdiagnosis.

One of the basis of assessment that doctors use to diagnose Shy-Drager is a person’s medical history and physical examination.

Other tests may include the tilt table test which has the patient placed securely on a motorized table and then tilted on several directions in order to monitor heart rate and blood pressure functions.

Other tests may include checking the blood, and electrocardiogram to track electrical signals to the heart, bowel and bladder function tests, as well as taking MRI images of the brain to check for brain lesions.

How to treat shy-drager syndrome?

There is no cure for Shy-Drager syndrome. What doctors can do is to help manage the disease by treating the symptoms that show.

Depending on the severity of the disease, doctors may recommend medication to raise a person’s blood pressure while standing up. There are also medications that may be given for patients who experience stiff and rigid muscles, movement and balance problems.