Porphyria: The Vampire Disease

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There exists a fairly rare group of genetic disorders that have unfairly branded many sufferers with the term “vampire”. These poor souls are extremely sensitive to sunlight that can easily result in burns and abrasions, and so they prefer darkness. They suffer from acute attacks of abdominal pains, vomiting and loose stools. Their urine may have a purplish-red colour leading some to wrongly believe that it results from drinking blood. Those afflicted may have increased hair growth, and with repeated damage, their skin tightens and shrinks. When this occurs around the mouth, the canine teeth appear to be more prominent, and suggestive of fangs. At other times, it causes depression and affects the brain to produce peculiar behaviour. It is probably no surprise that garlic makes all the symptoms worse.

Porphyria refers to a growing collection of disorders in which there are abnormalities in the enzymes involved in heme production and is very difficult to diagnose.

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