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SCI Health Issues
Complications of the Bowel Following a Spinal Cord Injury
Bowel Care and Management Sections
Autonomic Dysreflexia, sometimes called hyperreflexia, can occur in those with a spinal cord injury at or above the T6 level. Autonomic Dysreflexia occurs when there is an irritation, pain, or stimulus to the nervous system below the level of injury. The irritated area sends a signal to the brain but it is not able to reach the brain. A reflex action takes place, tightening blood vessels, causing the blood pressure to rise. If the high blood pressure is not controlled it may cause a stroke, seizure, or death.
Common Signs or Symptoms of Autonomic Dysreflexia are:
Check Bowel to see if there is sign of constipation or impaction? This can stretch the bowel. Is there stool in the rectum? Apply numbing medication (xylocaine jelly) and wait 5 minutes. Remove stool gently. Keep stool as soft as possible.
Constipation is one of the most common digestive disorders. It's symptoms vary greatly between different people, as each person's bowel movements differ. The rate of defecation is not in itself a problem, as infrequent defecation without problems is not abnormal. In common constipation, the stool is hard and difficult to pass. Straining to pass stool may cause haemorrhoids and anal fissures. In later stages of constipation, the abdomen may become distended and diffusely tender and crampy, occasionally with enhanced bowel sounds.
Signs of Constipation:
Laxatives should only be used as a last resort, as they will most probably cause bowel accidents, especially in those with flaccid bowels.
A faecal impaction is a large mass of dry, hard stool that develops in the rectum due to chronic constipation. This mass may be so hard that it cannot come out of the body. Watery stool from higher in the bowel may move around the mass and leak out, causing soiling.
To remove the stool, a gloved, lubricated finger should be used to gently remove the impacted stool from the rectum. If unsuccessful, a doctor should be contacted.
Haemorrhoids are veins in your rectum and anus that become enlarged (swollen). This can be caused by hard, constipated stools, and straining or pressure when having bowel movements. To prevent haemorrhoids, drink plenty of fluids and stay active. Sitting on a gel or air cushion can keep your haemorrhoids from getting larger and also can help prevent bed sores. Tell caregivers about your haemorrhoids. They may order medicines or suggest other ways to treat them.
Blood in your stools can be caused by several things. Doing digital stimulation too roughly can injure your rectum and cause bleeding. Make sure you perform digital stimulation carefully and use enough lubricating jelly. Make sure your fingernails are short. Haemorrhoids may bleed when stools move past them. Use more lubricating jelly if your haemorrhoids are swollen. Avoid straining when having bowel movements. Using stool softener medicine, drinking enough water, and eating a high-fiber diet can help prevent rectal bleeding.
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