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Home > Health Library > Rhabdomyolysis
Rhabdomyolysis (say "rab-doh-my-AH-luh-suss") is a rare but serious muscle problem. When you have it, your muscle cells break down, or dissolve. The contents of those cells leak into the blood. When it's in the blood, that material can travel to various parts of the body and cause problems.
If left untreated, this condition can be life-threatening. But when it's treated right away, most people make a full recovery.
Rhabdomyolysis can be caused by a variety of problems, such as:
This might be caused by prolonged pressure on muscle tissue, heat exhaustion, extreme physical exertion, seizures, or electrical burns.
Medicines that can cause this problem include statins, colchicine, phenytoin, and some dietary supplements.
Toxins are substances that are poisonous, such as alcohol, cocaine, hornet stings, snakebite, and carbon monoxide.
This includes salmonella, the flu, Legionnaires' disease, and some blood infections.
Early symptoms are often hard to notice. Symptoms include:
Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and past health and do a physical exam. The diagnosis is confirmed with blood and urine tests.
Most people need to be treated in the hospital. If possible, the doctor will stop the cause of muscle cell death. The doctor will take steps to protect your organs. You may have to stop taking certain medicines if they are the cause of the problem.
You will also get treatment to help the kidneys remove the toxins from your blood. This includes getting plenty of fluids. You may get fluids through a vein (by IV). If your kidneys are badly damaged, you may also need dialysis.
You can take steps to help prevent rhabdomyolysis from coming back.
If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
Current as of:
September 8, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Current as of: September 8, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
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