A week to my first workout session in a well equiped gymnasium, I was elated about the prospects of getting back into shape as I had put on weight and wanted to fix myself. I registered with a gym in my area; bought my training gear; and I was ready to start. I checked in for the evening session and presented to the gym instructor, my registration. We had a little chat and finally agreed on what to do. He walked me to a threadmill and I started my journey to fitness. I was on a threadmill for 30 minutes; highly energized; and I felt I could do more running. I felt dehydrated at a point in time but I said to myself, “you can do this, ignore the pain, push harder, you are almost there”. After running on the threadmill for about an hour, I knew I had reached my breaking point and I called it a night.
Early in the morning on the next day, I was back into the gym to do more running and workouts. This time, I did only 30 minutes of running on the threadmill and I was ready for some metal lifting. I had the guys to cheer me on as I struggled to finish my 3 sets of 10 reps on bench trying to lift 30 Kg of metals with similar routine for the next two days.
On the morning of the fifth day, I noticed my urine had changed colour from yellow to dark brown; my belly was hardened and I was experiencing difficulties in urinating. Because of my background in health, I knew that the dark-brown coloured urine contained blood and I needed an immediate medical intervention. I checked myself in at the Regional Hospital and was told to present my urine samples for tests. The first test that was conducted was urine routine examination and the results came back positive for blood in the urine. The doctor suspected sexual transmitted infection (STI) and ordered for a second test called culture and examination. I knew that was not the case as I was not sexually active.
I was conscious of my condition and I knew I had developed a medical condition called Rhabdomyolysis which has symptoms like the one I was experiencing and my recent workout activities at the gym could be the cause. The laboratory tests were to look for microorganisms that cause STIs rather than blood proteins in my urine. So I had to point it out to the medical officer of the condition and I was treated with fluid recovery.
What is Rhabdomyolysis?
Rhabdomyolysis is the breakdown of damaged skeletal muscle tissues. Muscle breakdown causes the release of myoglobin into the bloodstream. Myoglobin is the protein that stores oxygen in our muscles. These proteins in the blood can cause renal (kidney) failure and will require patients to be put on dialysis or haemofiltration as a treatment option to address the kidney damage in more severe cases and in mild cases, it can be treated with fluids given through the veins in an intravenous drip.
What causes Rhabdomyolysis?
Rhabdomyolysis is always triggered by muscle injury caused by several factors including intensive exercise such as marathon running; lifting heavy weights; crush injury; ischemic limb injury; and pathological muscle exertion.
How to prevent Rhabdomyolysis
Rhabdomyolysis can be prevented by drinking enough fluids (water) before and after strenuous exercise. The fluids dilute the urine and assist the kidneys remove any myoglobin that the muscles may have released into the blood during exercise. Always keep in mind to stay well-hydrated at all times. Seek help from a medical officer whenever you feel sick or have an infection. Addressing illness as soon as possible can help prevent the muscle damage that may lead to Rhabdomyolysis.