Each of the porphyrias will induce different symptoms. As a whole, these symptoms can be separated into two main types: “acute” and “cutaneous”.

Acute porphyria: Acute porphyrias, such as AIP, will happen in the form of “attacks” that typically last a few days but can also last weeks. A variety of things can cause an attack such as medications, alcohol, infection, and stress. Symptoms tend to be diminished between attacks. The symptoms of the acute attack include:

  • Belly pain (the most common symptom)
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Muscle pain, weakness, or numbness
  • Seizures
  • Anxiety, confusion, depression
  • A fast heart beat

 Cutaneous porphyrias

  • Fragility, erosions and blisters on the skin (particularly on the face and on the back of the hand)
  • Skin pain, swelling, and itching

Some porphyrias can cause symptoms of both acute porphyria and cutaneous porphyria. Moreover, some porphyrias occur in childhood while others will first be observed in adulthood.

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