What is Primary Periodic Paralysis?

If your loved one is suffering from what you think is paralysis, there are many types of paralysis to consider. If you have spent some time checking out this website, you already know that there are variations of paralysis that you should consider if your loved one has paralysis symptoms. One type of paralysis that a person might face is primary periodic paralysis (PPP).

As the name suggests, this type of paralysis is not permanent. It is a temporary type of paralysis that can last for a few minutes, hours, or days. PPP is triggered by certain things, but goes away relatively quickly in comparison with other types of paralysis. If you think your loved one has PPP, you should learn more about it so that you can help them. Here, you can learn about types of PPP, common triggers, common symptoms, and how you can help your loved one.

Types of PPP

As I’ve already mentioned, PPP is a relatively rare disease that causes a person’s muscles to weaken, stiffen, or become immobile. A lot of people might experience symptoms for most of their lives, starting in childhood or their teenage years. For others, PPP won’t develop until they are adults.

There are many different types of PPP that have different effects on a person. PPP is related to an imbalance of certain types of minerals in your muscle cells, including an imbalance of chloride, calcium, sodium, and especially potassium. Some of the most common types of PPP include:

  • Andersen-Tawil Syndrome: This syndrome causes a person to improperly balance potassium in their body. The person may have too much or too little potassium, which could affect that person’s ability to use their muscles.
  • Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis: During an episode of hyperkalemic periodic paralysis, potassium levels in the body spike. An episode might result from exercise or eating too little.
  • Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis: During an episode of hypokalemic periodic paralysis, potassium levels in the body drop. An episode might be brought on by exercise or eating certain types of foods.
  • Malignant Hypothermia: Some medications cause PPP. Drugs related to general anaesthetics can cause malignant hypothermia, which can cause PPP.
  • Paramyotonia Congenita: This disorder causes paralysis in a few situations. First is in cold temperatures. Secondly, paralysis can happen when potassium levels in the body drop. Finally, exercise can cause PPP if a person has this disorder.
  • Potassium Aggravated Myotonia: If a person has this disorder, they will experience paralysis when they ingest potassium.
  • Thyrotoxic Periodic Paralysis: This results from a thyroid gland that is overactive.

Common Symptoms, Triggers, and Treatment

A person with PPP might experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Facial weakness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Muscle pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing

If you notice any of these symptoms in a loved one, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

As you may guess from the different types of PPP, there are many different things that might trigger this disease. Common triggers include:

  • Drop in potassium level (usually called by fasting)
  • Spike in potassium level (usually caused by eating certain types of foods)
  • Cold temperatures
  • Certain types of medication
  • Strenuous activity

Treatment for primary partial paralysis is, in many cases, as simple as avoiding triggers or trying to manage them. For example, you might not have to give up exercise altogether if you have PPP and that is a trigger for you. Instead, you might find an exercise that is not very strenuous for you, such as walking or lifting weights. Other common ways to treat PPP are:

  • Pay attention to your potassium intake. Keep the balance in your body accurate by eating the right amount of potassium for you.
  • Don’t spend too long without eating.
  • Walk around periodically.
  • Avoid going outside in cold weather.
  • Manage your stress.
  • Be careful about which medications you take and avoid medications such as painkillers, muscle relaxers, etc. Consult with your doctor before taking any new medications.

You can work with your loved one’s doctor to come up with the best treatment plan for them. It will be important that you can help them manage their triggers to reduce episodes and assist them when they do have an episode. If you need more information on primary partial paralysis and how to help your loved one, contact my office.

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