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Porphyria

Treatment of Porphyria

Outbreaks of symptoms of acute porphyria often require hospitalization. Patients may be given medicine for pain, nausea, and vomiting. They will also often receive glucose or hemin (Panhematin) injections. Panhematin is the only heme therapy approved for use in the U.S.

Severe attacks of acute porphyria can cause lasting nerve damage and muscle weakness that can take months to resolve.

Treatment of cutaneous porphyria depends on the specific type and the severity of the symptoms.

Treatment of porphyria cutanea tarda includes:

  • Regular blood removal (phlebotomies) to reduce the amount of iron in the liver
  • Low doses of the antimalarial drug chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine
  • Avoidance of triggers
  • Treatment of any underlying condition such as HIV or hepatitis C

Diagnosis of Porphyria

Blood, urine, and stool tests are performed to diagnose porphyria. The best time to be tested is during an outbreak of symptoms or around the time of them.

Sometimes multiple tests will be required before the diagnosis of a particular type of porphyria is possible. Because porphyria often runs in families, other family members can be tested and counseled after a positive diagnosis.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on November 21, 2014
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