Need information on hypokalemic periodic paralysis.....?

I have been suffering with episodes of muscle weakness and sleep paralysis for over 15 years. It seems my symptoms are getting worse. I was diagnosed with sleep narcolepsy which causes these symptoms, but think i have been misdiagnosed. Ive been reading about hypokalemicPP for a couple weeks, and told my doctor i wanted to be tested for it. I feel like my health is getting worse. I woke up the other night unable to take a deep breath for about a minute. I'm only 32. I just had my lungs checked and they are healthy. I read that people with hypokalemic PP can have abnormal R.E.M. sleep too, and it can cause a misdiagnoses. The thing I am worried about is that sleep narcolepsy is relatively harmless, where as hypokalemicPP can kill you, weaken your heart, and cause your lungs to stop functioning. Hot weather, dry air, alcohol, and exercise and carbs tend to cause these attacks, which correlates more with hypokalemicPP and not narcolepsy.


My doctor doesn't know that pottasium levels are normal between attacks, so those test came back normal. If i simply had narcolepsy I wouldn't feel so ill and weak all the time.

What kind of doctor should i consult, and what test exist to test for this?

Update 2:

just in the last few weeks my vision has gotten alot worse, my neck keeps getting stiff, and my muscels twitch. Especially my left eye. I keep getting dizzy, and feel like my heart is pumping hard.

2 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Hypokalemic periodic paralysis is a rare channelopathy characterized by muscle weakness or paralysis with a matching fall in potassium levels in the blood. In individuals with this mutation, attacks often begin in adolescence and are triggered by strenuous exercise followed by rest, high carbohydrate meals, sudden changes in temperature and even excitement, noise or flashing lights. Weakness may be mild and limited to certain muscle groups, or more severe full body paralysis. Attacks may last for a few hours or persist for several days. Recovery is usually sudden when it occurs. Some patients may fall into an abortive attack or develop chronic muscle weakness later in life.

    Patients often report years wasted with wrong diagnosis, wrong treatments, deadends and multiple doctors, test and clinics. The CMAP (Compound Muscle Amplitude Potential) test, also called the exercise EMG or X-EMG, is diagnostic in 70-80% of cases when done correctly. Besides the patient history or a report of serum potassium low normal or low during an attack, the CMAP is the current standard for medical testing. Genetic diagnosis is often unreliable as only a few of the more common gene locations are tested. Standard EMG testing cannot diagnose a patient unless they are in a full blown attack at the time of testing. Provoking an attack with exercise and diet then trying oral potassium can be diagnostic, but also dangerous as this form of PP has an evil twin called Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis. The symptoms are almost the same, but the treatment is different. The old glucose insulin challenge is dangerous and risky to the point of being life threatening and should never be done when other options are so readily available.

    Treatment of hypokalemic periodic paralysis focuses on preventing further attacks and relieving acute symptoms. Avoiding carbohydrate-rich meals and strenuous exercise, and taking acetazolamide or another carbonic anhydrase inhibitor, may help prevent attacks of weakness. Paralysis attacks can be managed by drinking effervescent potassium bicarbonate dissolved in water, or potassium chloride oral solution. Some patients find positive results with time release potassium tablets. IV potassium is seldom justified unless the patient is unable to swallow. Daily potassium dosage may need to be much higher than for potassium replacement from simple hypokalemia: 100-150 mEqs of potassium bicarbonate is often needed to manage daily fluctuations in muscle strength and function.

    The prognosis for periodic paralysis varies. Over activity, bad diet or simply an unfortunate gene mutation can lead to a type of chronic, low level weakness called an "abortive attack," or to permanent muscle damage. Abortive attacks often respond to extra potassium, cutting carbohydrates, getting plenty of rest, increasing doses of medication and gentle daily exercise such as short walks. Permanent muscle weakness is just what it sounds like, permanent, irreparable damage to the muscles. Vacuoles and tubular aggregates form and destroy healthy muscle tissue. This type of damage should show on a muscle biopsy. Not even anabolic steroids can bring these damaged muscles back.

    Life span is expected to be normal, but attacks can drop potassium to levels low enough to cause life threatening breathing problems or heart rhythm difficulties. Patients often report muscle pain and cognitive problems during attacks. Migraines occur in up to 50% of all hypokalemic periodic paralysis patients and may include less common symptoms like phantom smells, sensitivity to light and sound or loss of words. Medical literatures states that muscle strength is normal between attacks, but patients tell a different story. "Normal" for them is not exactly the same as "normal" for everyone else.

    Because there are dozens of possible gene mutations, some drugs and treatments that work fine for one patient will not work for another. For example, most patients do well on acetazolamide, but some don't. Most patients will do will with extra magnesium (the body's natural ion channel blocker) or fish oil, while these same nutrients will make other patients worse. Patients and care givers should take extreme caution with all new drugs and treatment plans.

    click here:

  • 1 decade ago

    I have Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis and I am 29 years old. Narcolepsy isn't harmless and Periodic Paralysis isn't as deadly as you infer. That said neither disorder is fun to live with.

    I have muscle weakness, sleep paralysis, full body paralysis, shortness of breathe, brain fog, and vision issues.

    It is a good idea to contact both Narcolepsy and Periodic Paralysis support groups directly to learn more about the disorders from people who live with them.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.