Ammonia levels, risks, and hyperammonemic crises
What can cause high ammonia levels?
Your body makes ammonia as a waste product when it digests protein. Usually, your body changes ammonia to something called urea, which leaves the body as part of urine. In people with UCDs, a part of the urea cycle that changes ammonia into urea is missing or does not work properly. This causes ammonia to build up in the bloodstream, which can be life-threatening.
Why is too much ammonia bad?
Any increase in ammonia, also known as hyperammonemia, is serious and can lead to brain damage over time. Ammonia is toxic, and having too much in the body can have serious consequences. Increased ammonia levels can affect memory, behavior, learning abilities, brain development, and ability to think clearly, and they can lead to life-threatening hyperammonemic crises (HACs) if not managed. An HAC requires immediate medical attention and can cause coma and even death if not treated appropriately.
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