Porphyria is a group of disorders—the porphyrias—that affect the nervous system or skin, or both. Each type of porphyria results from a deficiency of one of the enzymes needed to make heme. Below are some important points about porphyria that you should remember.
- Most porphyrias are inherited disorders, but porphyria cutanea tarda is usually an acquired disorder.
- Besides genetic factors, environmental factors may trigger the development of symptoms in some types of porphyria. When exposed to the trigger, your body's demand for heme production increases.
- There are two types of porphyria. Cutaneous types of porphyria affect the skin, causing symptoms such as blistering, itching, and swelling. Acute types of porphyria affect the nervous system, causing symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting, numbness, and mental disorders.
- Each type of porphyria is treated differently. The treatment of condition depends on the type of porphyria you have. Porphyria can't be cured but can only be managed with certain lifestyle changes.
- Many symptoms of porphyria are similar to those of other health conditions. This makes it difficult to know if you're having an attack of porphyria. Seek immediate medical attention when experiencing severe abdominal pain, sudden painful skin blistering, redness (erythema), swelling (edema) and red or brown urine.
- Possible complications of porphyria are dehydration, breathing difficulties, low sodium in your blood, high blood pressure, chronic kidney failure, liver damage and permanent skin damage.
- To manage porphyria, you must learn what could trigger symptoms, inform your health care providers and wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace.
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