Porphyria (poor-FEAR-e-uh) refers to a group of disorders that result from a buildup of natural chemicals that produce porphyrin in your body. Porphyrins are essential for the function of hemoglobin — a protein in your red blood cells that links to porphyrin, binds iron, and carries oxygen to your organs and tissue. High levels of porphyrins can cause significant problems.
Porphyria mainly affects your nervous system, skin and other organs. The signs and symptoms of porphyria can vary, depending on the specific type and severity. Porphyria is usually inherited — one or both parents pass along an abnormal gene to their child. But in some types of porphyria, environmental factors may trigger the development of symptoms.
Treatment depends on the type of porphyria you have. Although porphyria usually can't be cured, certain lifestyle changes may help you manage it.