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spinal cord injury patients suffer from bladder problems?
Severe headaches, goosebumps, and cold sweat are all alarming signals that tell me something is wrong with my body. Only recently, I was plagued by all three symptoms. I immediately knew the reason when I checked my urine pouch. It was empty. The tube had a kink, which prevented my urine from draining properly.
For me, that’s an emergency situation!
But let’s start at the beginning. If, for example, one drinks a glass of fruit juice, it first enters the stomach before entering the blood stream via the intestinal tract. The blood is in turn filtered by the kidneys. The substances the organism requires remain in the body. By-products, on the other hand, end up as urine in the bladder. Once the bladder reaches a certain point of saturation, one feels the urgent need to visit the toilet.
At least that’s the theory. Spinal cord injury patients, however, either don’t feel the “full bladder” signal or feel it in a different way. We suffer from headaches or feel goosebumps. If we ignore these warning signs, the urine level builds up until it flows back to the kidneys. The possible consequences include kidney failure, poisoning of the entire body and increased blood pressure. In extreme cases, the latter of these can lead to a stroke.
As a spinal cord injury patient, one usually loses control of the muscle that controls the bladder. Those suffering from flaccid paralysis, for example, are unable to retain urine and don’t even feel the discharge. In the case of a spastic bladder paralysis, a discharge of urine is not possible without mechanical assistance or auxiliary means such as catheterisation. Above all, this leads to an increased risk of infection. As one can imagine, these problems affect us spinal cord injury patients greatly. We are required to consider our fluid intake constantly. We need to think about how much we drink and incorporate our bladder discharges into our daily routine.
Wolfgang Illek is a Partnerships and Event Manager at Wings for Life