What is Gluten Ataxia?
First lets find out what ataxia is. Ataxia is basically a neurological disorder wherein the muscle coordination is disrupted and it may cause difficulty in movement of limbs and other body parts. In spite of several studies, the cause of sporadic ataxia is still unknown. Ataxia can attack anyone at any age. People suffering from gluten intolerance or Celiac disease may also exhibit symptoms of ataxia.
A strong link between sporadic ataxia and gluten ataxia has recently been studied and it is now known that the condition can be controlled by restricting gluten from a patients diet. One has to understand that there are several underlying causes of ataxia and this needs to be ruled out before gluten intolerance or celiac disease is deemed the primary cause.
This means, that people who suffer from sporadic ataxia have a greater of also suffering from gluten ataxia. This article will describe in detail about the neurological disorder gluten ataxia and its relation to gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease. Please note that the end of this article will show several amazing facts and ways to help you deal with gluten ataxia.
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This is a a genetic autoimmune disorder, wherein the body produces certain antibodies that attack healthy cells whenever a foods containing gluten or any gluten based product is ingested. Gluten is mainly found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut and sometimes in oats (often due to cross contamination).
The symptoms of gluten ataxia are very similar to cerebellar ataxia. The most common symptoms include:
- difficulty in swallowing food
- impairment of speech
- difficulty in movement
- lack of physical coordination
- lack of concentration
- numbness in hands and feet (pins and needles)
- inability to steadily hold hands
- loss of control of optical muscles
Difficulty in breathing and inability to distinguish between exact locations of subjects are the symptoms experienced during the advance stages of gluten ataxia.
In order to understand gluten ataxia in a better way let us note that Gluten ataxia occurs at three different stages: Cerebellar, sensory and vestibular.
Cerebellar Ataxia: The cerebellum is the major and most important part of our brain. Its primary function is to manage the coordination and movement of our body. This will cause a variety of neurological deficits including impaired balance, inability to control of eye movements, trembling, slurred speech or impaired judgment of distance.
Understand that gluten ataxia is an advancing disorder and if not treated in time can cause permanent and irreparable damages to cerebrum.
Sensory ataxia: Is a form of ataxia that is not caused by cerebellar dysfunction but instead by loss of sensitivity to the positions of joint and other body parts. People are often diagnosed by having the patient stand with his/her feet together and their eyes shut. In affected patients, this will cause worsening instability and wlll produce widening oscillations that may even cause the patient to fall. (This is known as a positive Romberg's test).
Sensory ataxia is distinguished from cerebellar ataxia because a patient will have almost perfect coordination when they are able to watch their movements, that are made worse when their eyes are closed or usually complain of loss of balance in the dark or when they remove clothes or when closing eyes while in the shower.
Vestibular Ataxia: Is a term used to indicate ataxia due to dysfunction of the vestibular system or to the balance of a patient. In acute cases, vestibular ataxia is associated with vertigo, nausea and vomiting or a general feeling of 'being unbalance' may exist is slow onset instances.
The onset of ataxia is the least identifiable version of gluten intolerance. In many cases, it so happens that people with gluten ataxia are unable to figure out gluten intolerance as the major culprit behind it due to lack of characteristic symptoms. Gluten ataxia is only identified when all its other forms are ruled out. Several specific tests are done such as antibody analysis, and blood tests. If you wish to know more about the tests done to identify and confirm gluten ataxia you need to read my articles called "Gluten Intolerance Test" or "Testing for Gluten Intolerance" or you can download one of my many Gluten Intolerance Microbooks.
Gluten Ataxia and Celiac Disease – Relationship Explained
Gluten ataxia has a close relation to gluten intolerance Celiac Disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, wherein the body produces certain antibodies against its own immune system. The presence of proteins in gluten triggers the body to produce the antibodies that in turn harm the small intestine by damaging the villi. Villiare small hair like structures that line the upper wall of the small intestine that helps the organ in the process of absorption of nutrients. Due to the production of antibodies, the small intestine is no longer capable of absorbing any nutrients form the food and as a result illness relating to malnutrition. In case of gluten ataxia, the culprit known as gluten remains the same, but in this case the part of the body affected is cerebrum. It is pretty unclear that whether the antibodies directly attack the cerebrum or is malnutrition the cause due to villous atrophy. If we try to understand the series of reactions involved, then we may find out that the antibodies that cause villous atrophy to occur tend to trigger the development of toxins which pass into the blood stream due to leaky gut syndrome. This may then have an indirect attack on the cerebrum.
Following a strict gluten-free diet can help prevent or eliminate the symptoms. Researchers are yet to understand the complete mechanism of gluten ataxia, therefore, eliminating ALL gluten from the diet is suggested as part of the treatment procedure. Once gluten is restricted, brain functioning might improve with time.
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