Study Finds Treatment Promises for Autoimmune Cerebellar Ataxia
How to Cure Ataxia
Ataxia refers to a loss of muscle coordination that can affect mobility, speech, movement, and eating. This condition may have a number of different underlying causes, such as stroke, head injury, or illnesses like multiple sclerosis. While ataxia may not always be curable, there are many things you can do to lessen the symptoms and make your life easier. Consult your doctor about your treatment options to deal with ataxia in the best way possible.
Finding the Underlying Cause
Visit your doctor if you are displaying symptoms of ataxia.Any loss of muscle control or coordination should be discussed with your doctor right away to rule out serious illness. Ataxia may be a symptom of a minor medical issue or a more urgent condition or injury. Visit your doctor if you display some of the major symptoms of ataxia, such as:
- Loss of balance
- Difficulty walking
- Slurring of speech
- Difficulty swallowing
- Loss of muscles coordination in your hands, arms, or legs
- Involuntary eye movements
Tell your doctor about any medications that you are taking.In some cases, ataxia may be caused by certain medications and cured by discontinuing them. Tell your doctor about any medications you have been taking, prescription or otherwise. They may reduce your dose or prescribe something different to relieve your ataxia.
- For the most part, barbiturates, and sedatives are most likely to cause ataxia.
- Some prescription medications can affect you differently and cause ataxia as you age, so your doctor may prescribe a lower dose or have you discontinue it altogether.
- Some types of chemotherapy may cause ataxia.
Disclose any past or current drug or alcohol abuse to your doctor.Drug and alcohol intoxication can lead to ataxia over a prolonged period. Alcohol abuse in particular may lead to a vitamin E, vitamin B-12, or thiamine deficiency, causing ataxia. Tell your doctor about your drinking habits and drug use so they can assess the best treatment for your symptoms.
- Your doctor can recommend treatment options for drug and alcohol addiction, such as therapy and counselling.
- Symptoms of ataxia may be reversible if you stop consuming drugs and alcohol.
Undergo testing to determine the cause of your ataxia.Your doctor will likely conduct a basic physical exam to look for obvious signs of illness or injury, such as head trauma or stroke. They will also do a neurological test to test your memory, concentration, balance, hearing, sight, and reflexes. Prepare for additional testing, such as:
- A CT scan or MRI, which may reveal causes such as a blood clot or tumor
- A lumbar puncture, which will extract spinal fluid to be tested in a laboratory
- Blood tests
Seek treatment from a functional medicine provider.Instead of treating with medications, functional medicine providers help you address the underlying conditions that cause your ataxia. For example, conditions like inflammation, microbial imbalance, leaky gut, and chemical poisoning can all lead to autoimmune disorders. A functional medicine provider will recommend diet and lifestyle changes to control or reverse these conditions.
- For example, the provider may place you on a special diet or advise you to take certain supplements or nutraceuticals.
- They may instruct you on how to do a detox.
- The provider can identify healthy lifestyle changes that can help improve the conditions that may be causing your symptoms, such as managing stress, exercising, and avoiding certain substances.
Controlling the Symptoms
Do physical therapy to maintain or restore mobility.Physical therapy can help promote proper muscle function, physical activity, and balance. Ask your doctor if physical therapy is right for you, and if they can refer you to a therapist. You can also contact your insurance provider to ask for a list of physical therapist who participate in certain health plans.
- If you live in the U.S., find a physical therapist near you by visiting the American Physical therapy Association website at .
Go to speech therapy to help with voice and airway problems.Ataxia can cause difficulties with speech and swallowing, as well as choking or coughing. Speech therapy can help you manage these issues and learn how to use speech aids, if necessary. Look for speech therapists in your area or ask your doctor if they can refer you to one.
Ask your doctor about medications and treatments for depression.Depression is a common symptom of ataxia as many patients struggle with their diagnosis and symptoms. Tell your doctor if you are showing signs of depression and ask about possible treatment measures. They will likely recommend an antidepressant medication or cognitive behavioural therapy.
Discuss muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory drugs with your doctor to relieve pain.Ataxia may cause muscle cramps, spasms, stiffness, and nerve pain. Talk to your doctor about pain relief medications to help ease your discomfort. For milder pain, your doctor will likely recommend non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, diclofenac, or paracetamol.
- For more severe pain, they will likely prescribe a stronger medication like gabapentin or pregabalin, or a muscle relaxant like baclofen or tizanidine.
- Gabapentin can also help to control involuntary eye movements and muscle spasms.
Talk to your doctor about making changes to your diet.Ataxia can sometimes cause gluten sensitivity, which may result in digestive upsets and discomfort. Speak to your doctor about switching to a gluten-free diet to ease these symptoms. Increasing your level of vitamin E with supplements or a modified diet may also be beneficial as ataxia may cause a deficiency.
- Foods that are naturally rich in vitamin E include almonds, spinach, sunflower seeds, asparagus, mango, avocado, pumpkin, and swordfish.
- You may also have to adapt your diet to eat softer foods that are easier to swallow.
- A nutrition advisor can help you tailor a diet to your condition and needs.
Adapting to Life With Ataxia
Try occupational therapy to adapt to ataxia.Occupational therapy helps patients learn life skills to allow them to lead normal, independent lives despite their ataxia. Practical tasks are adapted and practiced to fit an individual's specific physical limitations. Ask your doctor about occupational therapy or search for occupational therapists in your area.
- Occupational therapy can make life more comfortable for people with ataxia by teaching them coping exercises to deal with symptoms. It may also involve modifications to their home or work space.
Ask your doctor about adaptive devices.If your ataxia is not treatable, ask your doctor to recommend adaptive devices that will make your quality of life better. A walker or hiking stick could make moving around much easier. Similarly, modified utensils could make eating simpler.
- Modified utensils are either weighted to prevent tremors while eating, or larger and easier to grip.
- Avoid alcohol and other recreational drugs, which can make your ataxia worse.
- Some cases of ataxia are caused by genes inherited by parents. If your doctor has not found a clear cause for your ataxia, ask them to refer you to a genetic counselor or genetic testing center.
- Ask your doctor if there are any clinical trials for ataxia treatments that you might qualify for.
Video: Ataxia Symptoms And Remedies
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