August 20, 2010, Newsletter Issue #67: Hyperreflexia Symptoms

Tip of the Week

Hyperreflexia (autonomic dysreflexia) can be caused by anything that may be painful or uncomfortable after the spinal cord injury. An example is an overfull bladder or a bowel full of gas. Hyperreflexia can be a life threatening condition, as it affects blood pressure, and the blood pressure cannot be controlled.

Symptoms of hyperreflexia include:
Pounding headache (caused by the elevation in blood pressure)Goose PimplesSweating above the level of injuryNasal CongestionSlow PulseBlotching of the SkinRestlessness Other simple things that could cause hyperreflexia are things most people do not think twice about, such as skin irritations, wounds, pressure sores, burns, pregnancy and ingrown toenails. There are also causes that are not quite as simple, such as broken bones and appendicitis.

If a patient notices symptoms of hyperreflexia, he or she should get to the hospital as soon as possible. To help prevent complications, according to, the patient should do the following
Remain in a sitting position, but do a pressure release immediately. You may transfer yourself to bed, but always keep your head elevated.Since a full bladder is the most common cause, check the urinary drainage system. If you have a Foley or suprapubic catheter, check the following:Is your drainage full?Is there a kink in the tubing?Is the drainage bag at a higher level than your bladder?Is the catheter plugged? Catheters must be changed if drainage does not start within two to three minutes. If there is no problem with the bladder or the catheter, check for pressure sores, ingrown toenails and fractured bones.

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