Rhabdomyolysis: Causes, symptoms, and treatment (full sample)
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Rhabdomyolysis is a serious medical condition that occurs when muscle fibers break down, releasing toxic substances into the bloodstream. These substances can cause damage to the kidneys, leading to renal failure. This article explores the causes, symptoms, and treatment of rhabdomyolysis, including what patients can expect from their recovery.
Rhabdomyolysis is a condition caused when muscle fibers break down rapidly and produce chemicals that enter the bloodstream. This can be dangerous as some of these substances, especially proteins, can be damaging to the kidneys. When the kidneys filter the blood, the substances from the muscle breakdown can cause renal failure which can be extremely serious and requires immediate medical attention.
Causes of rhabdomyolysis
There are several factors that can cause this condition, including:
Diseases of the muscular system.
Intense straining of the muscles, e.g. after exercise.
Crushing injuries, e.g. being trapped underneath a falling object.
Physical abuse or violence.
Some recreational drugs or prescription drugs, e.g. statins.
Overuse of alcohol.
Electric shocks, burns, and other significant physical trauma.
Heat stroke or high body temperature.
Symptoms of rhabdomyolysis
The symptoms of this condition vary according to how severe it is and whether it has caused renal failure or not. Symptoms can include:
Pain, tenderness, and swelling of the muscles.
Nausea, vomiting, and loss of consciousness.
Decreased or absent urine production.
A blood test can definitively diagnose rhabdomyolysis.
Treatment of rhabdomyolysis
If a person is suffering from these symptoms, it is vital that they be diagnosed and treated urgently. Treatment focuses on preventing further renal damage, helping renal function recover, and reducing the impact of shock or other complications on the patient. Typical treatments include:
Intravenous fluids to maintain a regular flow of liquid to the kidneys and renal system, typically between 6 to 12 liters over a 24-hour period.
Flushing out the kidneys to remove the muscle matter and other chemicals.
Correction of electrolyte levels and other abnormal chemicals in the blood such as potassium. This can be achieved with a variety of medications including calcium and insulin.
Renal replacement therapy such as dialysis.
Recovery from rhabdomyolysis
Provided that the condition is diagnosed early and treatment is started immediately, most patients will make a complete recovery from the condition, so long as renal failure does not occur. Renal failure adds significant complications and can reduce the chances of a full recovery and greatly increase recovery times.
Rhabdomyolysis is a serious medical condition. With the proper level of medical care and treatment, patients can make a recovery over a period of one to three months, assuming that renal failure has not occurred. If renal failure has occurred, damage to the kidneys could be permanent, requiring dialysis and other treatment over the long term.
Content originally written by Paul Maplesden, a freelance writer, and edited by me.