- aDepartment of Medicine, OLM Medical Center/New York Medical College, New York, USA, bDepartment of Medicine, Elmhurst Hospital Center/Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, USA
- Sushil K Ahlawat, House No 55, Sector 24-A, Chandigarh 160 023, India
- Accepted 5 November 1998
Hypokalaemic paralysis is a relatively uncommon but potentially life-threatening clinical syndrome. If recognised and treated appropriately, patients recover without any clinical sequellae. The syndrome of hypokalaemic paralysis represents a heterogenous group of disorders characterised clinically by hypokalaemia and acute systemic weakness. Most cases are due to familial or primary hypokalaemic periodic paralysis; sporadic cases are associated with numerous other conditions including barium poisoning, hyperthyroidism, renal disorders, certain endocrinopathies and gastrointestinal potassium losses. The age of onset, race, family history, medications, and underlying disease states can help in identifying the cause of hypokalaemic paralysis. Initial therapy of the patient with hypokalaemic paralysis includes potassium replacement and search for underlying aetiology. Further management depends on the aetiology of hypokalaemia, severity of symptoms, and duration of disease. This review presents the differential diagnosis for hypokalaemic paralysis and discusses management of the syndrome.