What is Suxamethonium Sensitivity & What are its Effects on Health?

What is Suxamethonium Sensitivity?

Suxamethonium is a drug that is used exclusively by the anesthesiologists for muscle relaxation at the time of surgery. Usually the effect of Suxamethonium wears off after some time post surgery and the muscle strength and tone is back to normal.

In some cases, what happens is that, Suxamethonium remains active much after the surgery is over which results in the muscle staying relaxed for a longer period of time and thus taking it longer for the patient to breathe by himself or herself again. This inability of the body to break down the drug is what is termed as Suxamethonium Sensitivity.

What is Suxamethonium Sensitivity?

What Causes Suxamethonium Sensitivity?

Once Suxamethonium is administered by the anesthesiologist during surgery, a protein called cholinesterase starts acting on it and starts to break it down such that by the time the surgery is over the entire drug has been broken down.

In cases of Suxamethonium Sensitivity, there were very low levels of cholinesterase present. This results in Suxamethonium not being able to be broken down resulting them remaining active for a much longer period of time. The reason behind low levels of cholinesterase is a defect in the cholinesterase gene.

This follows an autosomal recessive pattern meaning that two copies of the defective gene from each parent are required for an individual to develop Suxamethonium Sensitivity.

Individuals, especially females who inherit only one copy of the defective gene, can become Suxamethonium Sensitive especially when they get pregnant when cholinesterase levels go further down.

Is Suxamethonium Sensitivity Inherited?

If an individual is known to have Suxamethonium Sensitivity, then more likely than not, he or she will transfer the copy of the faulty gene to the offspring. This faulty gene will then combine with a normal copy of the gene from the other parent.

What this means is that all children born to Suxamethonium Sensitive parents may also be Suxamethonium Sensitive but may require specialized tests to confirm this. Thus it is recommended that, in case if an individual has known Suxamethonium Sensitivity, then he or she go for a genetic counseling and have their child tested to determine if he or she also has Suxamethonium Sensitivity. In cases where an individual has only one copy of the defective gene then there is a 50% chance of him or her passing on the defective gene to the child.

Effects of Suxamethonium Sensitivity on Health

Broadly speaking individuals with Suxamethonium Sensitivity need not worry about any other health conditions apart from when having surgery. They need to be upfront in telling the surgeon beforehand that they have Suxamethonium Sensitivity so that they can be aware of it.

Apart from the effects of Suxamethonium sensitivity, there are no other health effects due to this condition. However, if the individual indulges in recreational drug abuse like cocaine and heroin then it will also take a long time to break down as they are also acted upon by cholinesterase and the individual may also have further side effects in the form of cardiac disorders which may be potentially complicating.

Hence it is recommended that people with Suxamethonium Sensitivity do not indulge in use of recreational drugs so as to prevent any adverse reactions and complications as a result of Suxamethonium Sensitivity.

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