Muscular Dystrophy – What It Is, Causes and Prevention to stay away from this disease. In addition, muscular dystrophy is a set of disorders that cause progressive loss of muscle mass and, as a result, loss of muscle strength . It is a condition caused by genetic mutations that interfere with the production of muscle proteins needed to build and maintain healthy muscles.
The absence of these proteins can cause muscle coordination problems as well as walking and swallowing. It is a genetic disease and, as a result, a history of familial muscular dystrophy increases the chance of another family member developing the disease. The muscular dystrophy can happen at any stage of life, but is usually diagnosed in childhood. Boys are more likely to develop this disorder than girls.
The diagnosis of muscular dystrophy depends on the type and severity of symptoms. However, most people with muscular dystrophy lose the ability to walk and thus need to use a wheelchair.
Causes of Muscular Dystrophy:
Hundreds of genes are involved in the production of proteins that protect muscle fibers from damage. The muscular dystrophy occurs when one of these genes is defective. Each form of muscular dystrophy is caused by a specific genetic mutation. Many of these mutations are inherited, but some may occur spontaneously in the mother’s egg or in the developing embryo.
Muscular Dystrophy Symptoms:
Progressive muscle weakness is the main feature of muscular dystrophy. Each separate form of muscular dystrophy , however, may vary slightly in location of symptoms:
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: Signs and symptoms usually arise when your child starts walking and may include:
Difficulty getting up from a lying or sitting position;
Trouble running and jumping;
Calf muscles larger than normal;
Becker’s Muscular Dystrophy: This variety has signs and symptoms similar to Duchenne muscular dystrophy, but they are lighter and progress more slowly. Symptom onset is usually in adolescence, but may not occur until the mid-20s or even later.
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Other types of Muscular Dystrophy:
Myotonic muscular dystrophy: has an inability to relax muscles at ease. Most often it begins in early adulthood. Muscles of the face are usually the first ones affected.
Waist Type Muscular Dystrophy: The hip and shoulder muscles are usually the first affected in this type of muscular dystrophy. In some cases, it becomes difficult to lift the front part of the foot. Signs and symptoms may begin from childhood to adulthood.
Congenital Muscular Dystrophy: It is evident at birth or up to two years of age. Some forms progress more slowly and cause only mild disability, while others advance rapidly and cause severe damage.
Facio-scapulohumeral muscular dystrophy: One of the most striking signs is that the shoulder blades may stick out like wings when the person lifts their arms. Onset usually occurs in adolescents or young adults.
Pharyngeal oculus muscular dystrophy: The first sign is the drooping of the eyelids. The weakness of the eye muscles, face and throat often results in difficulty swallowing. Signs and symptoms first appear in adulthood, usually between 40 and 50 years.
Treatment for Muscular Dystrophy:
There is no specific treatment that can stop or reverse the progression of any type of muscular dystrophy. All forms of muscular dystrophy are genetic and cannot be prevented. Treatment for muscular dystrophy aims to keep the patient independent as long as possible and to prevent complications resulting from weakness , decreased mobility, and cardiac and respiratory difficulties. Treatment may involve a combination of actions such as physical therapy, medicine and surgery.
Assisted ventilation is often required to treat the respiratory weakness that accompanies many forms of muscular dystrophy , especially in the later stages. Drug therapy may be prescribed to delay muscle degeneration . However, drugs can have side effects such as weight gain and bone fragility that can be problematic especially for children. Antibiotics can be used to treat respiratory infections.
Physical therapy can help prevent deformities, improve movement and keep muscles as flexible and strong as possible. Physical therapy should begin as soon as possible after diagnosis, before muscle and joint stiffness occurs.
Changes in diet had no effect on slowing the progression of muscular dystrophy. However, proper nutrition is essential for overall health. Mobility limitation resulting from muscle weakness can contribute to obesity , dehydration and constipation. A low-carb, high- fiber , high- protein diet combined with proper fluid intake can help. Patients with muscular dystrophy who have trouble swallowing or breathing, and those who have lost their ability to walk independently, should be monitored for signs of malnutrition.
Occupational therapy may help some patients cope with progressive weakness and loss of mobility. Some people may need to learn new jobs and other ways of doing tasks, while others need to change jobs.
Technological help may include modifications to house and work arrangements, as well as the use of motorized wheelchairs, wheelchair accessories and adapted utensils. Corrective surgery is often done to alleviate the complications arising from muscular dystrophy.
Prevention For Muscular Dystrophy:
The best recommendation to prevent Muscular Dystrophy is reading and genetic counseling for the family that already has a history of the disease. Tests performed in pregnancy are already able to detect some form of dystrophy .