Hypokalemic periodic paralysis

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Hypokalemic periodic paralysis attack (inherited type) by Dr Jacob Levitt. This video shows a severe episode of hypokalemic periodic paralysis.

Hypokalemic periodic paralysis (hypoKPP) is a rare channelopathy characterized by repeated, temporary attacks of muscle weakness or paralysis that are the result of a fall in potassium levels in the blood.[1]

Hypokalemic periodic paralysis can be either genetic (familial) or acquired (not life long), and is classed as a form of acute flaccid paralysis, and has been described in people with severe myalgic encephalomyelitis.[2][3]

Types of periodic paralysis[edit | edit source]

Diagram of muscle channelopathies showing hypokalemic periodic paralysis on a spectrum of channelopathy diseases.
Hypokalemic periodic paralysis is a type of muscle channelopathy.
Image: K June-Bum, 2014[1] CC-BY-NC-3.0

Hypokalemic periodic paralysis is one of several types of periodic paralysis.

Other types include hyperkalemic periodic paralysis, which is linked to high potassium levels, thyrotoxic periodic paralysis, linked to thyroid hormone levels.[1]

Muscle weakness[edit | edit source]

Weakness may be mild and limited to certain muscle groups, resulting in partial paralysis or paresis, or more severe full-body paralysis. During an attack reflexes may be decreased or absent. Hypokalemic periodic paralysis attacks may last for a few hours, or persist for several days. Recovery is usually sudden, and occurs when the swollen muscles release potassium as they recover.

Prevalence[edit | edit source]

Hypokalemic periodic paralysis is to be rare in the general population, but has been found in people with ME/CFS, especially in people with severe and very severe ME.

Symptom Recognition[edit | edit source]

Hypokalemic periodic paralysis was only discovered fairly recently.

The International Consensus Criteria and the International Consensus Primer refer to channelopathies and ion transportation problems, but do not mention hypokalemic periodic paralysis directly.[4]

Notable studies[edit | edit source]

2003, Paralysis: A qualitative study of the people with Severe Myalgic Encephalomyelitis[3]

Causes of temporary paralysis[edit | edit source]

In individuals with the inherited genetic mutation, attacks often begin in adolescence. Attacks of paralysis are most commonly occur:

  • on awakening or after sleep
  • after rest following strenuous exercise (attacks during exercise are rare)
  • after high carbohydrate meals
  • after meals with high sodium content (high salt content)
  • as a result of sudden changes in temperature, or cold temperatures
  • sensory input, such as noise, or flashing lights cause trigger paralysis
  • and even excitement.

Potential Treatments[edit | edit source]

Electrolytes are one of the suggestions for treating energy metabolism and ion transportation problems in ME. Potassium would seem the obvious electrolyte.

See also[edit | edit source]

Learn more[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

The information provided at this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any illness.
From MEpedia, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of ME and CFS science and history.