Serene Forest

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What is Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis?

Hello All,

Each day I get a little stronger from my last bout with paralysis a few days ago and for this I am thankful. I have been able to continue my writing, editing and analyzing our survey. Thank goodness I can do those things while sitting in a recliner!! With only one week left until Christmas, I am also relieved to know that my Christmas shopping is completed, and was also done in the comfort of my recliner.

                                      What is Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis?

Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis is a form of Periodic Paralysis, a very rare, hereditary metabolic disorder also called a channelopathy. If an individual has Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis they become partially or fully paralyzed intermittently. The paralysis results from problems with the way the body controls sodium and potassium levels in the cells. It is associated with high levels of potassium (hyperkalemia) during paralytic episodes.

When potassium shifts into higher ranges in normal individuals, it is called hyperkalemia. High potassium levels in the blood will occur for anyone and a myriad of symptoms may be experienced and can be dangerous, even deadly. If an individual has Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis and potassium shifts into higher ranges, he or she can and will experience a combination of the same myriad of symptoms as well as paralysis and can be equally as dangerous and deadly.

When potassium levels are at a slightly elevated level there may be no symptoms. At a moderately higher level, which is usually between 5.5 and 6.5 mEq/L, there may be some symptoms involving muscles, digestion, kidneys, electrolyte balance, the liver and the heart.

Potassium levels above 6.5 mEq/L are very serious and usually require medical attention.

Muscles: Fatigue, weakness, pins and needles, tingling or numbness in the extremities, muscle contraction, muscle rigidity, muscle cramps, muscles stiffness, muscle twitching, muscle cramping, reduced reflexes, muscle contraction involving tongue, tightness in legs, strange feeling in legs.

Digestion: Discomfort, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting.

Heart: Palpitations, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, slow heartbeat, weak pulse, absent pulse, heart stoppage, small P waves, tall T waves, QRS abnormality, P wave abnormality, QT lengthening, fast heartbeat.

Kidneys:  Breathing problems, wheezing, shortness of breath, fast breathing, feeling hot, low blood pressure.

Liver: The brain function becomes affected: Irritability, sleepiness, confusion, seizures, loss of consciousness.

Paralysis: Episodic muscle weakness, episodic partial paralysis, episodic total paralysis.

Laboratory blood changes: Elevated blood potassium, serum sodium level elevated, Serum CPK (creatine).
Laboratory urine changes: Elevated urine pH level.

An individual with Periodic Paralysis may have his or her own individual levels of potassium at which symptoms or paralysis occurs. What may be normal ranges for someone may be high for another. Using a potassium reader to discover one's high, normal and low ranges is suggested, for better treatment.

Factors which can trigger attacks include rest after exercise, potassium-rich foods, stress, fatigue, weather changes, certain pollutants (e.g.: cigarette smoke), periods of fasting, cold temperatures, certain anesthetics, depolarizing muscle relaxants, other medications which increase potassium levels, alcohol and heavy exercise.

Attacks may be reduced by:
Avoiding high potassium foods, drugs known to increase potassium level and fasting.  Also it is important to stay warm, engage in mild regular exercise if possible and avoid known triggers.

Some drugs, which can be effective for treating the symptoms, are available for individuals with Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis but they should be used with extreme caution due to serious side effects.

Until later...

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