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Autonomic Dysreflexia

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Autonomic dysreflexia (AD) is a condition that causes sudden, extremely high blood pressure. AD is most common in people with a spinal cord injury in the neck or upper back.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

You may have nausea, vomiting, or dizziness. You may also have a headache or a fast heartbeat. Without treatment, your blood pressure may go dangerously high. This may become life-threatening and lead to a heart attack, seizure, or stroke.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

A Foley catheter

is a tube put into your bladder to drain urine into a bag. Keep the bag below your waist. This will prevent urine from flowing back into your bladder and causing an infection or other problems. Also, keep the tube free of kinks so the urine will drain properly. Do not pull on the catheter. This can cause pain and bleeding, and may cause the catheter to come out. Caregivers will remove the catheter as soon as possible to help prevent infection.

Medicines:

  • Antibiotics help treat or prevent a bacterial infection.

  • Anticonvulsant medicine helps control seizures.

  • Antiulcer medicine helps decrease the amount of acid in your stomach.

  • Blood pressure medicine helps lower your blood pressure.

  • Pain medicine may be given to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.

  • Bowel movement softeners help make it easier for you to have a bowel movement.

Tests:

  • Blood and urine tests may show kidney function or information about your overall health.

  • A cystometrogram measures the way your bladder squeezes when it fills and empties. Healthcare providers watch your blood pressure while your bladder is filling.

  • A CT scan or MRI may be done to monitor your condition. You may be given contrast dye to help your organs show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.

Treatment:

You may need surgery to treat the condition causing your AD. This may include surgery for kidney stones, hemorrhoids, or fractures.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Autonomic Dysreflexia (Inpatient Care)

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