Monday, 26 April 2010

Prognosis of Hypokalemia

The prognosis for periodic paralysis varies. Over activity, bad diet or simply an unfortunate gene mutation can lead to a type of chronic, low level weakness called an "abortive attack," or to permanent muscle damage. Abortive attacks often respond to extra potassium, cutting carbohydrates, getting plenty of rest, increasing doses of medication and gentle daily exercise such as short walks. Permanent muscle weakness is just what it sounds like, permanent, irreparable damage to the muscles. Vacuoles and tubular aggregates form and destroy healthy muscle tissue. This type of damage should show on a muscle biopsy. Not even anabolic steroids can bring these damaged muscles back.
Life span is expected to be normal, but attacks can drop potassium to levels low enough to cause life threatening breathing problems or heart rhythm difficulties. Patients often report muscle pain and cognitive problems during attacks. Migraines occur in up to 50% of all hypokalemic periodic paralysis patients and may include less common symptoms like phantom smells, sensitivity to light and sound or loss of words. Medical literatures states that muscle strength is normal between attacks, but patients tell a different story. "Normal" for them is not exactly the same as "normal" for everyone else.
Because there are dozens of possible gene mutations, some drugs and treatments that work fine for one patient will not work for another. For example, most patients do well on acetazolamide, but some don't. Some patients will do well with extra magnesium (the body's natural ion channel blocker) or fish oil, while these same nutrients will make other patients worse. Patients and care givers should take extreme caution with all new drugs and treatment plans.

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