Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
Porphyria is a disorder in which the body
produces too much of the chemical porphyrin. Porphyrin is used to make heme, the
part of blood that carries oxygen. Heme also gives blood its color. Any
circulating porphyrin the body doesn't use is excreted in urine and stool. When
the body produces and excretes too much porphyrin, as happens with porphyria,
not enough heme remains to keep a person healthy.
Porphyria affects either the nervous
system or the skin. When porphyria affects the nervous system, it can cause
chest pain, abdominal pain, muscle cramps, weakness, hallucinations, seizures,
purple-red-colored urine, or mental disorders like depression, anxiety, and
paranoia. When porphyria affects the skin, blisters, itching, swelling, and
sensitivity to the sun can result.
Porphyria is an inherited condition.
Attacks of the disease can be triggered by drugs (barbiturates, tranquilizers,
birth control pills, sedatives), chemicals, certain foods, and exposure to the
Porphyria is diagnosed through
tests on blood, urine, and stool. It can be treated with medicines to relieve
symptoms, a drug called hemin (which is like heme), or a high-carbohydrate