How can I prevent it?
Patients with both complete and incomplete lesions can be affected (it is less common and less severe in the latter group).
Not all patients will be affected, but about 50%-70% of patients at or above T6 are likely to experience symptoms of Autonomic Dysreflexia at some time.
There are some simple things you can do to help prevent AD:
- Prevent catheter blockages and stones by drinking 2-3 Litres of fluid a day
- Regular bladder emptying
- Adhere to the bowel management regimen to prevent constipation and complications
- Regular pressure relief in bed or chair to prevent any skin damage
- Use sunscreen when out in direct sunlight
- Be alert and aware of hot and cold temperatures in environment and devices e.g. hot water bottles, laptop transformers, ice pack
- Be careful of limbs when transferring
Preventing AD happening again, along with education, remains the long term goal in managing this condition, as most causes can be avoided.
For individuals who are unable to verbalise any symptoms they are experiencing, family and carers should be aware of the possibility that any subtle changes in their condition could indicate an episode of AD. A medic-alert bracelet should be considered and/or an autonomic dysreflexia at risk card carried.
You may wish to carry/take information on AD to show healthcare professionals looking after you, particularly if they are unfamiliar with AD if you are admitted to an area other than a spinal unit.
Last updated: May 2020