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Shy-Drager Syndrome Symptoms & Diagnosis


Symptoms associated with the involuntary nerves usually occur first. Motor problems similar to those found with Parkinson’s disease may develop later. Symptoms include:

  • Dizziness or fainting when standing or sitting up, or changing positions
  • Dizziness may be worse in the morning or after meals
  • Fatigue after physical exertion
  • Muscle weakness
  • Neck ache, which may radiate to the shoulders
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Erectile dysfunction in men
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Inability to control bowels or bladder ( incontinence )
  • Urinary frequency and urgency that may be especially bothersome at night (occurs early in the disease)
  • Gasping or noisy breathing
  • Short stops in breathing during sleep ( sleep apnea )
  • Impaired temperature control
  • Reduced sweating
  • Dry skin
  • Vision problems
  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Slurred, faint speech
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Poor balance
  • Unsteady walking
  • Tremors
  • Stiffness
  • Slow movements
  • Loss of facial expression
  • Dementia (occurs late in the disease)


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. This disease is often hard to diagnose. There is no specific test for Shy-Drager syndrome, but testing helps rule out other conditions.

Tests may include:

  • Blood tests—to measure electrolytes and other blood chemistries.
  • MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of the inside of the body.
  • Electromyogram (EMG) —a test that measures and records the electrical activity of the muscles at rest and when contracted. It can check for skeletal muscle weakness.
  • Tilt-table test—measures changes in blood pressure as your body position changes
  • Sleep studies—to check for disorders such as sleep apnea.
  • Barium swallow —a series of x-rays of the upper digestive tract taken after you swallow a barium substance, which will show up on x-ray. In people with Shy-Drager syndrome, this test is used to assess swallowing problems.

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Shy-Drager Syndrome Guide

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