Shy-Drager syndrome is a nervous system disorder in which parts of the brain controlling motor and involuntary function begin to fail. Motor ability includes balance and muscle movement.
Blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, stomach acids and digestion, as well as bladder and bowel control can all be affected.
Dizziness is common, due to postural hypotension, or changes of position. Dizziness can also be caused by orthostatic hypotension, where a drop in blood pressure occurs upon standing.
Other names for this disorder are neurologic orthostatic hypotension, Shy-McGee-Drager syndrome and Parkinson's plus syndrome.
Shy-Drager syndrome is similar in some ways to Parkinson's disease, as both conditions involve tremors that occur when muscles are not in motion (resting tremor).
Both conditions will cause rigid muscles, tremors and difficulty in movement. Walking and talking can become arduous.
However Shy-Drager syndrome causes more damage to the autonomic nervous system which regulates involuntary functions.
Heat becomes hard to handle because the individual produces less perspiration, along with a reduction in saliva and tears. Dry eyes and mouth may be the result.
Facial expressions may become unchanging and staring. Cognitive ability may decrease, and personality may alter.
There is no definite cure at the present time for Shy-Drager syndrome, but there are guidelines that can help deal with symptoms.
To lessen postural hypotension and orthostatic hypotension, increase fluid and salt intake. This can help prevent a drop in blood pressure, as will raising the head of the bed.
Rising and changing positions should be done slowly. Support stockings and other garments can maintain a more regular blood pressure.
Small meals, eaten often through the day, may help the beleaguered digestive system. Soft foods will make swallowing easier. Any exercise should be gentle and moderate.
Men between 35 and 75 years of age are most prone to getting Shy-Drager syndrome. It is degenerative which means it will usually get worse. The course of the disease is about seven to ten years from onset, usually ending in death.