ATAXIA - Overview , Facts, Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Medications
Ataxia

ATAXIA

Ataxia is classified as a lack of muscle coordination and control that impacts a person’s eye movements, speech, walk, capacity to swallow, and other voluntary movements. This may be caused by head trauma, stroke, multiple sclerosis, tumors, cerebral palsy, and excessive alcohol consumption. Also, ataxia may result from particular infections and immunological problems. 

Moreover, some individuals may develop ataxia over time or due to genetic factors. This condition may start all of a sudden, stabilize, or worsen, depending on the cause. 

TYPES

Ataxia comes in many types, including the following:

  • Cerebellar Ataxia. It is a disability of the cerebellum, affecting motor control, sensory perception, and coordination.
  • Sensory Ataxia. It is generally developed due to loss of muscle sensation (proprioception).
  • Vestibular Ataxia. This influences the vestibular system of the body, which plays a vital role in hearing.

SYMPTOMS

The symptoms for ataxia vary for the following types:

Cerebellar 

  • Decreased muscle tone
  • Shaking of the limbs or body
  • Lack of coordination
  • Problems controlling power and speed of leg, eye, and hand

Sensory 

  • Inability to feel vibrations
  • Problems in walking in the darkness
  • Feeling of heaviness in every step
  • Instability when standing with feet together and closed eyes

Vestibular 

  • Speech difficulties including slow or slurred speech
  • Problems in controlling pitch, volume, and rhythm 
  • Poor coordination
  • Problems in swallowing
  • Shaking and tremors
  • Hearing and vision problems
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Recurrent infections

Other conditions that may transpire along this disorder include heart problems and diabetes, and there might be complications in one’s vision, feet, spine, hearing, muscles, and heart. 

DIAGNOSIS

Because this condition affects the nervous system, a patient with these symptoms should consult a neurologist.

The neurologist may perform a physical examination and ask for the patient’s medical history in order to determine the possible cause of it. The following tests may also be conducted:

  • CT scan and MRI 
  • Blood test
  • Genetic test
  • Urine test

Furthermore, it may take time to diagnose ataxia since the signs are similar to many conditions. 

TREATMENT

There is no definite medication for ataxia, but various treatments may reduce its symptoms. Furthermore, the following treatments may help these following symptoms:

  • For balance and coordination problems: wheelchairs, walking sticks, or walkers
  • For weakness, stiffness, spasms, and tremors: medications or therapy enhancing a person’s strength and mobility
  • For deficiencies: supplements and a special diet plan to reduce symptoms

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