Sporadic ataxia is ataxia that has no genetic or otherwise known acquired cause. Ataxia causes a lack of muscle control during voluntary movements. Sporadic ataxia can occur with a gluten sensitivity, giving the more popular name of gluten ataxia. September 25th is Ataxia Awareness Day. Following you will find more information on gluten ataxia.
What Is Ataxia?
Ataxia is cause by damage to the cerebellum or connections to it. The cerebellum is the part of your brain that controls movement and coordination. When the cerebellum or its connections are damaged, movement and coordination can be affected.
Ataxia can be caused by heredity, certain medical conditions, infections or toxins. These must be ruled out before a diagnosis of sporadic ataxia is made.
What Is Gluten Ataxia?
Gluten ataxia is considered a type of sporadic ataxia. This type of ataxia does not usually manifest itself until later into a person’s adulthood years. Although many types of sporadic ataxia never have an identified cause, gluten ataxia is finally identified by a sensitivity to gluten.
According to Stephen Gislason, MD1, people with gluten ataxia often have anti-gliadin antibodies present that attack certain cells in the brain.
Symptoms of Gluten Ataxia?
Gluten ataxia symptoms mimic those of other forms of ataxia. These symptoms include trouble walking or standing, lack of balance and trouble speaking or swallowing. Left untreated, gluten ataxia is progressive and damage to the cerebellum can be permanent.
Symptoms of gluten ataxia usually occur in adulthood. There may be no other symptoms of a wheat allergy or gluten sensitivity present to have gluten ataxia.
Prognosis of Gluten Ataxia
Unlike most other types of ataxia which have no treatment, if detected early, gluten ataxia can be treated with a gluten-free diet. Dr. Marios Hadjivassilou headed up a study on Dietary Treatment of Gluten Ataxia2. According to Dr. Hadjivassilou, a gluten-free diet is effective in alleviating symptoms of gluten ataxia. Even if the damage to the cerebellum is permanent, further deterioration from gluten ataxia can be prevented with a gluten-free diet.
Gluten-Free Diet for Gluten Ataxia
There is a lot of information available if you must follow a gluten-free diet to relieve symptoms of gluten ataxia. People with celiac disease also need to follow a gluten-free diet. The Celiac Sprue Association3 has some very useful information to help you get started on a gluten-free diet.
September 25th is Ataxia Awareness Day. This is a worldwide event. There are dozens of types of Ataxia to learn about, so learn what you can about this condition. It is best to get a doctor’s advice if you develop any of the symptoms of ataxia. The good new is, especially when detected early, gluten ataxia is treatable.
THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND SHOULD NOT REPLACE THE ADVICE OF A PHYSICIAN. IF YOU SUSPECT GLUTEN ATAXIA, YOU SHOULD NOT BEGIN A GLUTEN-FREE DIET WITHOUT YOUR DOCTOR’S PERMISSION.
1) Stephen Gislason, MD; Gluten and the Brain; Persona Digital Online
2) Dr. Marios Hadjivassilou, et al; Dietary Treatment of Gluten Ataxia; Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry
3) Celiac Sprue Association; Treatment of Celiac Disease; Celiac Sprue Association