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What causes autonomic dysreflexia?

Many different causes can trigger autonomic dysreflexia. Essentially, any painful, irritating or even strong stimulus below the level of the injury can cause an episode of autonomic dysreflexia. An individual who doesn’t go to the bathroom for urination or defecation in a timely manner can precipitate autonomic dysreflexia. Bladder distension or irritation is responsible for 75-85% of the cases. Bladder irritation is commonly caused by a blocked or kinked catheter or failure of a timely intermittent catheterization program. The second most common cause of autonomic dysreflexia is bowel distension, usually due to fecal impaction. This accounts for 13-19% of cases.

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