Post by Lαrα on Sept 16, 2013 10:57:44 GMT -8
This thread has been prompted by the recent discussion on another thread with regards to the concerns that surround aging with a Spinal Cord Injury.
I have decided not to focus negatively on the effects of aging with a SCI but more importantly i will aim to focus on the potential risks and what you/we can do to help prevent as much as possible and stay healthy!
After researching the issues I have collated the useful bits and compiled a guide for our members to use as reference....i hope this helps and also gives practical information and advice
Life expectancy is increasing!
I know this is an issue that many of us think about....is our life expectancy shortened due to SCI.
Fortunately people with SCI are living longer now than ever... during the 1940's most people suffering a Spinal Cord Injury lived for approximately 18 months post injury.
We have progressed so much since back in the day!....now life expectancy is dramatically higher (good news! :tup:)
So much so that studies from 1998 show that the life expectancy of individuals suffering with SCI now resembles the general population more. I have decided to not throw figures around because everyone differs. I think that developments in medical care and rehab reflect the significant increase in life expectancy and thats what needs to be focused on.
But we do need to take extra care of ourselves to minimise the health risks that affect us as we age, so.....
Key health risks!
There are three main health risks that cause the most mortality in people with SCI....they are:
In this order: respiratory disease, diseases of the urinary system and heart disease.
So...lets look at what we can do to take care of each....
Respiratory disease..how to manage the respiratory system
Learn a variety of different strategies to manage your secretions. Some individuals use equipment or manually assisted cough techniques...be informed...discuss all the options with your respiratory nurse or doctor/consultant.
Get influenza and pneumococcal vaccines...its important!
Do not smoke!
Learn the warning signs of poor ventilation: unusual shortness of breath, rapid breathing, daytime drowsiness or fatigue, fluctuating alertness, more dramatic changes in breathing with sitting versus laying (for some, it may be easier to take deep breaths when laying than upright), and declining vital capacity.
***These may be signs of impending respiratory failure and warrant evaluation by a pulmonary specialist to see if you need additional assisted ventilation or supplemental oxygen.****
(The above may relate to higher level injuries but can still be applied to some other levels)
How to manage the urinary system
Signs and symptoms of urinary tract infection may change from the usual symptoms as you age.
Your main symptom could be confusion and lethargy rather than the typical urinary changes.
Regular cystoscopy to screen for bladder cancer is recommended for people who have used a chronic indwelling Foley catheter for more than eight to 10 years. In fact if you catheterise in any way you should ask for this procedure to be carried out.
In this procedure, a urologist puts a small tube with a camera through the urethra into the bladder to inspect the surface of the bladder for any suspicious lesions.
Evaluate your bladder program annually to minimize the frequency of urinary tract infections. If you are having too many UTI's, you may need to change your method of catheterization or look at your routine. Ensure that your routine is super hygenic!
Make an appointment and discuss with your urologist.
Drink plenty of water..lemon water is also good...pro briotic drinks help and try cranberry tablets
Only rarely should antibiotics be used prophylactically (used to prevent infection) to prevent the onset of infections, since it may contribute to the creation of more resistant bacterial organisms...if you suffer from regular infections then your Urologist can advice if this is an option for you or not,
Be vigilant about avoiding overfilling of a leg bag that might cause distention of the bladder and transmit urine back up to the kidneys.
Women should use the smallest possible catheter size and try to avoid increasing the size of the catheter to prevent more and more urethral incompetence.
Stop or avoid smoking!
Yearly upper urinary tract screening for stones and upper tract deterioration. This involves ultrasound or a CT scan of the kidney and lab tests to assess kidney function.
So now onto the third health issue.....
Looking after your heart
Don't smoke! avoid passive smoking too! (i noticed in my spinal unit that several people with high level injuries liked to have a few cigs a day.. )
Make sure blood pressure is checked at least every two days...keep control of your blood pressure....speak with your doctor if it is high...discuss medication if you have already modified your lifestyle and seen no reduction
Control weight, eat healthily
reduce sodium intake
make sure your alcohol intake is moderate
Maintain a level of exercise that is tailored to your function..get your nurses to help/family/physio...etc and keep thinking of ways to get that heart pumping a little faster now and then..its a muscle that needs exercise.
30 mins moderate - intense dynamic exercise 3-5 times a week....for those with limited function..speak with your doctor/consultant about a supervised and appropriate exercise program
Get your cholesterol checked..if it is high then you can discuss further modifications to your diet
Get a diabetes check up
Control Autonomic Dysreflexia..AD can trigger severe cardiovascular reactions...more info on AD here
Have a regular blood test to ensure your overall health is good and it will identify any potential problems
Be in control....your doctor may not offer management of the checks that you need so ask for them..be pro-active!
(please note:I am not a medical practitioner...the 'looking after your heart' is advice however the main of the medical advice has been extracted from this source should you wish to read the whole article....other sections have been taken from various sources)