Monday, October 26, 2009

Did You Know?

I get autonomic dysreflexia.

According to SCI-info pages, "Autonomic dysreflexia, also known as hyperreflexia, means an over-activity of the Autonomic Nervous System causing an abrupt onset of excessively high blood pressure. Persons at risk for this problem generally have injury levels above T-5. Autonomic dysreflexia can develop suddenly and is potentially life threatening and is considered a medical emergency. If not treated promptly and correctly, it may lead to seizures, stroke, and even death.

AD occurs when an irritating stimulus is introduced to the body below the level of spinal cord injury, such as an overfull bladder. The stimulus sends nerve impulses to the spinal cord, where they travel upward until they are blocked by the lesion at the level of injury. Since the impulses cannot reach the brain, a reflex is activated that increases activity of the sympathetic portion of autonomic nervous system. This results in spasms and a narrowing of the blood vessels, which causes a rise in the blood pressure."

Commen warning signs for autonomic dysreflexia include a fast, major increase in blood pressure, pounding headache, flushed or reddened skin, goosebumps, heavy sweating, blurry vision or seeing spots, anxiety or jitters, a stuffy nose, and tightness in chest or flutters in your heart or chest. When I get autonomic dysreflexia, the first thing that happens is my blood pressure increases. If it goes on for longer, I get goosebumps, a headache, and my skin becomes red and blotchy. I have never experienced any of the other warning signs listed above, but people with lower injury levels tend to get them.

If any of these warning signs appear, there are a few steps that have to be taken. Proper treatment of autonomic dysreflexia includes determination and removal of the triggering stimuli. First, sit up or raise head to 90°. This will bring the blood pressure down. Second, loosen or take off anything tight. Third, check bladder for drainage. Fourth, call your health care professional.

Causes of autonomic dysreflexia according to SCI-info pages:

"There can be many stimuli that cause autonomic dysreflexia. Anything that would have been painful, uncomfortable, or physically irritating before the injury may cause autonomic dysreflexia after the injury.

The most common cause seems to be overfilling of the bladder. This could be due to a blockage in the urinary drainage device, bladder infection (cystitis), inadequate bladder emptying, bladder spasms, or possibly stones in the bladder.

The second most common cause is a bowel that is full of stool or gas. Any stimulus to the rectum, such as digital stimulation, can trigger a reaction, leading to autonomic dysreflexia.

Other causes include skin irritations, wounds, pressure sores, burns, broken bones, pregnancy, ingrown toenails, appendicitis, and other medical complications."

The most common reason why I get autonomic dysreflexia is if my bladder is full. All I have to do is cath and it goes away. The next most common reason is if I am laying on a wrinkle or somethings too tight on my body. If there is any pressure inside or outside of my body, I will get dysreflexia. My blood pressure has never gotten to dangerous levels, and I have never actually called my doctor because of getting dysreflexia. I'm lucky that I can detect it soon enough and do something about it before it gets bad.


1 comment:

Matthew Smith said...

I was wondering if you got that. I kind of assumed you didn't, because you've never mentioned it and you said you had sensation in your body and your SCI was incomplete, but clearly it's not that incomplete, although you can identify what's causing it and fix it quickly. I recently read an article by a lady with a C6 incomplete injury who said she had been getting AD a lot and often had no idea why.