Ataxia can all be impaired by the inability to control voluntary motions, such as talking, blinking, swallowing, walking, and grasping objects. Multiple sclerosis (MS), head trauma, heavy alcohol use, stroke, cerebral palsy, heredity, and tumors are just a few of the conditions and other variables that include ataxia.
Specific immune system problems and infections can also cause ataxia. This article will go through a few of the most common varieties, their potential causes, and current treatments.
Ataxia symptoms are condition-specific. The onset age relies on the underlying reason. When ataxia is inherited, it may manifest in early childhood or even at birth. Symptoms might appear at any age if brought on by an accident or another health issue.
The symptoms may become better and disappear entirely in some people. Common early signs are:
- Coordination issues, especially with the limbs
- Difficulty in producing words clearly; slow or slurred speech; inability to produce speech; inability to regulate volume, rhythm, and pitch
Other symptoms might appear, such as:
- Issues with balance, dizziness, and nystagmus (an involuntary, quick, rhythmic, repeating eye movement that can be vertical, horizontal, or circular) can all be stroke symptoms.
- Impairments in vision and hearing that may require the use of a wheelchair
- Stress because of dealing with ataxia
Sometimes, ataxia telangiectasia presents itself in young children. As well as appearing to be "a touch shaky or a bit wobble," a toddler may also experience:
- General Infections
- Spider veins in the ears, whites of the eyes occur around the whites of the eyes, the earlobes
- Friedreich's ataxia is a genetic, progressive form of ataxia that typically appears between the ages of 10 and 15.
Symptoms may also include:
- Scoliosis or a sideward
- High arching feet
- Week heart muscles
Several coexisting conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, have been linked to Friedreich's ataxia, and the disease can cause difficulties involving the spine, foot, heart, muscles, eyes, and ears.
Having this form of ataxia means a person will always require supportive treatment.
If ataxia develops from an injury or sickness like a stroke, symptoms typically improve with time and may finally go away completely.
Though ataxia is seldom cured, you can manage it, and the quality of life is greatly enhanced by treatment. One or more of the following ataxia symptoms may prompt a doctor to recommend a particular course of treatment:
- Balance and coordination issues: Problems with balance and coordination may require adaptive devices such as canes, crutches, walkers, or wheelchairs. Modifying your house for things like wheelchair access may be necessary.
- Muscle spasms, stiffness, weakness, and tremors: Medication and physical or occupational therapy can help patients overcome these issues by restoring or maintaining muscle strength and mobility and teaching them alternative strategies for daily tasks.
- The curvature of the spine: If your spine is curved, your doctor may suggest seeing an orthopedic specialist.
- Stress: Counseling and medicine have the potential to alleviate depression symptoms.
- Speech problems: do you experience problems with swallowing, coughing, or choking? A speech therapist can help with communication difficulties and muscular control.
- Deficiencies: Persons with deficiencies may benefit from taking vitamins, eating a particular diet, or both. Ataxia patients who are gluten sensitive may also benefit from avoiding gluten. As a result of immune system issues, ataxia telangiectasia patients may benefit from gamma-globulin injections. Medication is effective in reducing involuntary eye movement.
A neurologist, an expert in nervous system disorders, is the typical medical professional to see when someone exhibits ataxia symptoms. The neurologist will examine the patient, look for signs of hereditary ataxia in the patient's family history, and consider other potential reasons, such as a history of head trauma.
They may also request the following tests:
- Blood tests, as some forms of ataxia can affect blood composition
- Urine tests, as these may reveal systemic changes that occur in some forms of ataxia
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans the brain to look for lesions, tumors
- Other forms of brain damage are genetic tests to assess for inherited ataxia
One way to detect Wilson's disease is to collect urine daily and look for copper levels that are out of the ordinary. Sporadic or idiopathic ataxia refers to cases of the disorder in which you cannot determine the etiology. Because the symptoms may indicate multiple disorders, confirming a diagnosis may take some time.