Most forms of periodic paralysis are associated with abnormalities of potassium metabolism. They are also seen with disorders of the adrenal glands, barium poisoning, abuse of thyroid hormones, excessive use of diuretics and laxative medications. Renal failure can also produce these symptoms.
Causes of Periodic Paralysis
Episodic paralysis occurs in a number of diseases. The nocturnal occurrence of periodic paralysis beginning early in life is most likely hereditary. Hyperthyroidism is sometimes associated with these types of symptoms. The periodic episodes of paralysis seen with renal disease are not hereditary and tend to be severe and prolonged.
Signs and Symptoms of Periodic Paralysis
In each of the forms of periodic paralysis, the symptoms are somewhat similar. Over a few hours, there is the onset of diffuse weakness or total paralysis. The symptoms may last several hours or may subside over several days. Following the attack, the musculature returns to normal. In some of the hereditary forms, the person awakens at night with severe weakness of the limbs. They are often related to having had a large meal rich in carbohydrates. Attacks occur every few weeks and lessen with advancing age. Periodic paralysis may be associated with hyperthyroid states. Here, rapid or irregular heart beat occurs. There is restlessness and nervousness.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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