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Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis

What is hyperkalemic periodic paralysis?

Hyperkalemic periodic paralysis is a disease that is characterized by episodes of intense muscle weakness and high levels of potassium in the blood. Their duration is usually 15 minutes to one hour, but some see very long episodes of multiple days to a week. 

What are the symptoms of hyperkalemic periodic paralysis?

These episodes typically begin between infancy and age 10, and then decrease after age 50. They are characterized by periods of intense muscle weakness in the arms, eyes, legs, and trunk. Affected individuals are often unable to move their arms and legs during an episode. In between episodes, people may experience muscle stiffness. 

What causes hyperkalemic periodic paralysis?

The SCN4A gene is mutated in those with this condition, and it is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern. 

An episode can be triggered by a number of things, including exercise, foods with a lot of potassium, fatigue, exposure to the cold, and stress. 

How is hyperkalemic periodic paralysis diagnosed?

A diagnosis comes from the identification of characteristic symptoms, and doctors will look for elevated potassium levels during an episode. Genetic testing confirms a diagnosis. 

What are the treatments for hyperkalemic periodic paralysis?

Treatment focuses on avoiding triggers and trying to stop or lower the severity of episodes. If one notices an episode coming on, they can try mild exercise, eat carbs, inhale salbutamol, or try intravenous calcium gluconate. 

Where can I find out more about hyperkalemic periodic paralysis?

Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis Articles