Ataxia is a disease of the cerebellum. This condition is usually described by the lack of muscle coordination. Ataxia can affect normal movement, as well as speech, eye movement and the ability to swallow. The disease is commonly caused by damage to the cerebellum. It can be determined by a wide range of conditions, as well as by alcohol abuse, stroke, multiple sclerosis, tumors and cerebral palsy.
Starting the right treatment, as soon as the disease is developed is highly important. However, to be able to get an early diagnosis, you need to first know which are the symptoms of this disease. Ataxia is a condition that can be developed suddenly, so no symptoms will be experienced. The disease can also be developed over time, depending on its cause. When symptoms start being felt they will include the following:
- Poor coordination;
- Unsteady walk;
- Tendency to stumble;
- Change in speech;
- Difficulty when swallowing;
- Involuntary eye movement;
- Difficulty in eating or writing, as well as in numerous other normal fine-motor tasks.
In case you lose balance and muscle coordination you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Other symptoms include difficulty walking and swallowing. In case you delay the doctor’s appointment, you may develop complications. The disease can evolve until becoming very serious and hard to cure, too.
The main cause of ataxia is the damage, degeneration or loss of nerve cells in the cerebellum. Below you can find a list of some of the most important causes that have been associated to this disease:
- Head trauma;
- Transient ischemic attack;
- Cerebral palsy;
- Multiple sclerosis;
- Paraneoplastic syndromes;
- Toxic reactions.
Causes will vary from one case to another. Naturally, not all patients who have been submitted to the aforementioned risk factors will necessarily develop ataxia.
There are several tests that can be used to diagnose ataxia. The physical and neurological exams will be included in all diagnosis processes. They check memory and concentration, as well as balance, coordination and reflexes. Other tests used in diagnosis include:
1. Blood tests to confirm a suspected condition. Specific blood tests will be recommended depending on the causes experienced by each patient.
2. Urine tests may also be required. They suppose taking a urine sample to check for abnormalities.
3. Imaging studies, CT scans, of the brain can also determine whether the patient is suffering from ataxia or not.
4. Lumbar puncture supposes the insertion of a needle into your lower back.
5. Genetic testing can be recommended to find out if there are any gene mutations that may determine the development of this condition.
One of the most important things you should know about ataxia treatment is that this is hard to cure disease. There is no specific treatment for this condition that can help you overcome it. However, there are several therapies that can be recommended in some cases. They can include physical therapy to built strength and enhance mobility, as well as therapy to improve speech and aid swallowing.
Ataxia is a disease of the cerebellum, such as other conditions of this type being extremely difficult to overcome. Getting the right treatment and receiving an early diagnosis can be crucial in achieving a cure as soon as possible.