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Be wary of this secondary condition to a spinal cord injury

If you were in an accident in which you suffered a spinal cord injury, you face either a significant recovery period or adjustments to a new way of life. Even if your prognosis is that you will achieve as close to a full recovery as possible, it could take months.

Depending on the location of your spinal cord injury, you could experience a number of secondary conditions that arise due to the disruptions in the messages from your body to your brain and from your brain to your body. Doctors consider some of them as life-threatening medical emergencies, but this article will only focus on one.

Autonomic dysreflexia

If your injury occurred in T6 or higher, you may be at risk of suffering from autonomic dysreflexia. This condition means that your autonomic nervous system goes into overdrive. Your autonomic nervous system controls automatic bodily functions, such as breathing, heart rate and digestion. It results from an irritant below your level of injury, such as the following:

  • Cuts
  • Bruises
  • Pressure sores
  • A skin irritation or infection
  • Burns
  • Restrictive or tight clothing
  • An ingrown toenail
  • An irritated or distended bowel
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Impaction or constipation
  • Anal infections
  • A urinary tract infection
  • Irritation of the bladder wall
  • An overfilled collection bag
  • A blocked catheter
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Bone fractures
  • Labor and delivery
  • Abdominal conditions
  • Sexual activity

As you can see, a condition that wouldn't be much more than an irritant to you prior to your spinal cord injury could now cause you serious harm.

The warning signs

You may want to monitor yourself for the following symptoms of this condition:

  • A flushed face
  • A pounding headache
  • High blood pressure
  • Nasal stuffiness
  • A pulse slower than 60 beats per minute
  • Goose flesh below the injury level
  • Sweating above the injury level

One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to know your baseline blood pressure. This allows you, your caretakers and medical personnel to understand when your blood pressure is high, which is a sign of autonomic dysreflexia. You will also need to keep careful track of your body and know how it is functioning at any given time. You can no longer dismiss something like an ingrown toenail. Make no mistake. This condition is a life-threatening one for which you will need immediate medical attention.

The impact of your spinal cord injury

This is just one secondary condition that you will need monitored whether by you or medical personnel. You will always need to remain on alert since you do not currently have the ability to feel when something is wrong below the level of your injury.

You not only have the physical issues to deal with, but the mental and emotional ones as well. You can consider this when seeking compensation from the party or parties deemed at fault for your current condition.

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