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Rhabdomyolysis: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

When you have rhabdomyolysis (say "rab-doh-my-AH-luh-suss"), dying muscle cells cause toxins to build up in the blood. If not treated, it can cause life-threatening damage to the body's organs.

It can be caused by many things, such as severe muscle injury, some medicines (like statins), the flu, and certain blood infections.

Symptoms may include weak muscles, pain, stiffness, fever, and nausea. Your urine may also be dark.

You will get treatment 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 plenty of fluids. You may get fluids through a vein (by IV). You may also need dialysis.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Talk to your doctor about whether you need to stop taking any medicines. Follow your doctor's instructions about stopping medicines.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. 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.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse muscle pain.
  • You have less urine than normal or no urine.
  • You have new swelling in your arms or feet.
  • You have blood in your urine.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.