National Continence Helpline

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Autonomic dysreflexia

Autonomic dysreflexia is a medical emergency. It can be life threatening.

If you think the person you support has autonomic dysreflexia, get medical help straight away.

What is autonomic dysreflexia?

Autonimc dysreflexia is a condition that is most common in people with spinal cord injuries above T6. Some people with multiple sclerosis can also experience the condition. It happens when stimuli below the level of the injury causes the blood vessels to constrict. This then causes the person's blood pressure to rise very quickly. If you take the stimulus away, the autonomic dysreflexia usually stops.

If you are supporting a person with these conditions, you need to know the signs and symptoms of autonomic dysreflexia and what to do. Read more about the signs, symptoms and causes of autonomic dysreflexia by clicking the Learn More button below.

What should you do if the person you support has autonomic dysreflexia?

  • Help the person into a sitting position and lower their legs.
  • Loosen any tight clothing.
  • Look for the stimuli causing the autonomic dysreflexia and take it away if you can.

If you can't find the cause or if the person is not getting better, call for medical help. You shouldn't ignore autonomic dysreflexia.

Need more help? Call the National Continence Helpline on 18OO 33 OO 66 and talk to a continence nurse advisor.

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This information is not a substitute for independent professional advice.