|Photo Credit: thevandallist.com|
Porphyria is a host of illnesses that is caused by the abnormal production of a chemical substance in your body called heme. Heme is present throughout the body predominantly in the blood and in the bone marrow. Porphyria can be classified as acute porphyria, cutaneous porphyria and mixed porphyria.
Acute porphyria affects the nervous system and indicated by symptoms such as personality changes, confusion, hallucinations, reddish colored urine, paranoia, anxiety, seizures, excessive sweating, abdominal pain, muscle pain, sleeping problems, vomiting, nausea, dehydration, and diarrhea. The symptoms of cutaneous porphyria are skin problems like skin redness, skin swelling, itching and blisters. The porphyria that has the symptoms of both acute porphyria and cutaneous porphyria is called mixed porphyria.
While porphyria is hereditary there are symptoms that can be triggered by other factors including hormonal imbalance, drinking alcohol, infections, smoking, sun exposure, unnecessary dieting, stress, and some medications. Urine test, stool sample test and blood tests may be required to diagnose porphyria. Symptoms vary depending on what type so there are different ways on how to cure porphyria.
For acute attack of porphyria, the following treatments are recommended:
Determine the Cause
First, determine what has possibly triggered the attack. To lessen the chances of having an attack, it is better to avoid the triggering factors. But if an acute attack has already occurred, identifying the factors that may have caused the attack can help a lot in the treatment. Stopping or removing the possible trigger could be the best way to treat the attack. If a drug you are taking is causing the attack, then you should refrain from taking the said medicine.
Tackle the Symptoms
Once you have determined what has caused the attack, it is time to treat the resulting symptoms. If there is abdominal pain, taking painkillers will relieve the pain. Certain medications can be prescribed to stop nausea and vomiting. In the same manner that you should take medications to lower high blood pressure and reduce increased heart rate. If convulsion develops, ask the doctor for prescribed medications as well.
Watch Out for Additional Symptoms
The next step is crucial because you need to monitor closely if there will be additional symptoms. For acute porphyria type, careful monitoring for the development of new symptoms is highly recommended. Pay extra attention to symptoms like muscle weakness particularly muscles of the chest wall because this can significantly affect the breathing process.
Treat Using Haem Arginate
At the start of the attack, you can introduce a medicine called haem arginate to the patient. Haem arginate is a medicine that can be injected directly into the vein. The purpose of this medicine is to control the production of porphyrins in the body. Since it is injected to the vein, inflammation is most likely to occur around the area where it was injected. There could be an allergic reaction and it may interfere with blood clotting but it seldom happens. To avoid any attacks from happening again, intravenous treatment with haem arginate should be given once or twice a week. In the absence of haem arginate, the next alternative would be glucose which may be given orally or intravenously.
For Cutaneous Porphyria
In cutaneous porphyria, the skin is mainly affected. The major trigger is sunlight. The basic way on how to cure porphyria of this type is to cover up and use sunscreens to minimize the exposure to sunlight. You can also take a drug called chloroquine. It helps dissolve the overly produced porphyrins so they can be expelled easily from your body when you urinate.
In cases when porphyria causes the build-up of iron in the body, a procedure called venesection is performed wherein certain amount of blood is removed regularly.
There are forms of porphyria that can be noticed during childhood. These are called congenital erythropoietic porphyria and erythropoietic protoporphyria. The effect can be very serious and treatment includes splenectomy, bone marrow transplant, and liver transplant.
The best way on how to cure porphyria is to educate yourself of the symptoms. And be sure to consult experts who can rightfully provide you with the treatment you need.