Living With a Spinal Cord Injury - When to Call a Doctor
There may be a time when you
have a medical emergency and need to contact a doctor.
Be prepared to call your SCI provider, 911, or other emergency services if you or the person with the
spinal cord injury (SCI) has the symptoms of
autonomic dysreflexia, a syndrome in which there is a
sudden onset of excessively high blood pressure. If you or a caregiver do not
treat it promptly and correctly, it may lead to
stroke, and even death. Symptoms include:
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A pounding headache. A flushed face and/or red blotches on the skin above the level of
spinal injury. Sweating above the level of spinal injury. Nasal stuffiness. Nausea. A slow heart rate ( bradycardia). Goose bumps below the level of spinal injury. Cold, clammy skin below the level of spinal injury. Call 911 or other emergency services if you fall or have another accident and you notice: Swelling on a part of your body where you have no feeling or
movement. Increased muscle spasms or other signs of
spasticity. Call your doctor immediately if you
have symptoms of a
urinary tract infection (UTI). These include: Fever and chills. Nausea and vomiting. Headache. Reddish or pinkish urine. Foul-smelling urine. Cloudy urine. Increased muscle spasms or other signs of
Depending on your level of injury, you may also feel
burning while urinating and/or pain or discomfort in the lower pelvic area,
abdomen, or lower back. Call your doctor immediately if you have the symptoms of
pneumonia. These include: Fever of
100°F (37.8°C) to
106°F (41.1°C). Shaking chills. Cough that often produces colored mucus from the lungs. Mucus may
be rust-colored or green or tinged with blood. Older adults may have only a
slight cough and no mucus. Rapid, often shallow, breathing. Chest wall pain, often made worse by coughing or deep breathing.
Fatigue and feelings of weakness (malaise). Increased muscle spasms or other signs of
Call your doctor for an appointment if you have a
pressure sore and: The skin is broken. The sore has increased in size or is draining more. It has increased in redness, or black areas are starting to
form. It starts to smell bad, and/or the drainage becomes a greenish
color. You have a fever.