Understanding Refsum Disease: Symptoms, Treatment Options and Health
Refsum Disease, also known as the Heredopathia Atactica Polyneuritiformis, is a rare, inherited metabolic disorder that affects the nervous system and the nerve endings in the bodily extremities. People with this condition suffer from progressive damage to their nerves, leading to issues with coordination, difficulty in walking, a loss of feeling, muscle weakness, and weight loss. This long-term medical condition can cause debilitating disabilities and can, in severe cases, lead to death.
Diagnosis and Symptoms of Refsum Disease
The classic symptom of Refsum Disease is an ataxic gait — a lack of coordination that makes walking difficult — and it usually appears in patients between 6 and 25 years of age. Other significant symptoms of Refsum Disease include: numbness in the extremities, ataxia (lack of coordination between muscles), fatigue, peripheral nerve damage, hearing loss, and vision impairment.
If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical diagnosis. Your doctor can perform a simple test to diagnose Refsum Disease, including a thorough physical examination and laboratory tests.
Treatment Options for Refsum Disease
Unfortunately, there is no cure or effective treatment for Refsum Disease. However, existing treatments can help slow down the progression of the disease. These treatments include regular physical therapy and speech and occupational therapies, diet modification, and taking B-complex vitamins.
Additionally, some medications may be used to improve neurological function and minimize the risk of further nerve damage. For people in advanced stages of the disease, options such as pulmonary ventilation, placement of permanent nerve stimulating units, and kidney dialysis may also be available.
The Impact of Refsum Disease on Health
Having Refsum Disease affects the health of patients in more ways than just physical. The condition can cause depression, anxiety, and feelings of isolation due to the physical limitations and disabilities caused by it. It’s therefore important for those affected to have access to emotional and mental health support from family and friends, as well as professionals.
Refsum Disease is a rare, inherited metabolic disorder that results in nerve damage, hearing and vision loss, and an inability to coordinate movements. Although there is no cure for Refsum Disease, treatments such as physical therapy and medications can help slow down the progression of the disease. It’s important for those affected to have access to emotional and mental health support to cope with the physical and emotional difficulties caused by the condition.