Stories We Tell are e-mail exchanges written by our List members. In this exchange patients discuss the difficulties of see-sawing between between looking fine and lying in a heap somewhere, not always in the place of our own choosing.
People with Hypokalemic periodic paralysis, and some Andersen-Tawil Syndrome patients, need to eat a diet low in carbohydrates and sodium, since both carbohydrates and sodium trigger attacks. But how do you do it? Here are handy tips on how to plan a diet that is reduced in sodium and carbohydrates.
Use this chart to help determine patterns to your food triggers. Blanks have been left for you to individualize the chart to your needs. Check food labels for sodium content, etc. This chart is intended to be utilized as an adjunct to a food journal.
The major features found in all the periodic paralyses are:
1. Attacks almost always begin before the age of 25, though occasionally later in life. ATS patients can develop first symptoms at any age.
2. Serum potassium fluctuates shortly before an attack, but serum potassium level will normalize before the attacks resolves and will be within the normal range between attacks. This is not a disorder of the blood but one in which there is an inappropriate shift of fluid, K+ and NA+ during attacks.
When evaluating patients for periodic paralysis it is vital to obtain accurate results from blood draws. Because potassium levels which vary only a fraction of a point may be enough to trigger weakness in some patients, the lab may need to be made aware of specialized procedures which should ideally be used to obtain samples for K+ evaluation.
From "A Manual of Laboratory Diagnostic Tests" by Frances Fischbach, Page 247-253.
Potassium (K+) Normal Values: 3.5-5.0 mmol/liter 4.0-4.7 mmol/liter (average)
Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis is a genetically determined disorder which causes attacks of weakness and flaccid paralysis. Attacks last from 10 min to 1 hour, very rarely up to 1-2 days. Some patients experience only a few attacks over their lifetime, others have attacks every day. Diagnosis is suggested by attacks of weakness during which the patient's serum potassium is above 5.0 mmol/l or rises at least .5 of a mmol/l above their normal level when not in an attack.
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