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What is rhabdomyolysis?

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Quick Answer

Rhabdomyolysis is a syndrome caused by the breakdown of muscle fibers. The death or breakdown of the muscle releases a protein called myoglobin into the bloodstream, which can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness and kidney failure, according to Healthline.

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Full Answer

When myoglobin is released into the bloodstream following a muscle injury, the kidneys attempt to filter it out of the body. Myoglobin is toxic to the tubules of the kidneys. Large amounts of myoglobin in the kidneys can lead to kidney failure, reports Healthline.

Since rhabdomyolysis is a result of direct or indirect damage to the muscles, common causes of rhabdomyolysis include extreme muscle strain, injuries that lead to crushing of the muscle, compression of a muscle over a long period of time, and exposure to certain drugs and alcohol, explains WebMD. Rhabdomyolysis can also be caused by certain metabolic and genetic disorders such as hypothyroidism, diabetic ketoacidosis, carnitine deficiency, McArdle syndrome and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Infection and inflammation can also lead to rhabdomyolysis, adds Healthline.

Symptoms of rhabdomyolysis vary based on the course of the syndrome and what part of the body is affected. Common signs of rhabdomyolysis include muscle pain and weakness, dehydration, trouble moving the arms and legs, fever and rapid heart rate. Sufferers may also experience nausea or vomiting, confusion, and dark red or brown urine, notes WebMD.

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