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Cerebellum is a disorder that occurs when the cerebellum becomes inflamed

What is acute cerebellar ataxia?

Acute cerebellar ataxia (ACA) is a disorder that occurs when the cerebellum becomes inflamed or damaged. The cerebellum is the area of ​​the brain responsible for controlling gait and muscle coordination.

The term "ataxia" refers to a lack of fine control of voluntary movements. "Acute" means that the disorder appears rapidly, within minutes to one to two days. Acute cerebellar ataxia is also known as cerebellar encephalitis.

People with acute cerebellar ataxia often have a lack of coordination and difficulty performing daily activities. The condition usually affects children, especially between the ages of 2 and 7. However, it can occasionally affect adults as well.

What are the causes of acute cerebellar ataxia?

Viruses and other diseases that affect the nervous system can affect the cerebellum. Examples are the following:

  • Chicken pox

  • Measles

  • Mumps

  • Hepatitis A

  • Ebstein-Barr and Coxsackie virus infections

  • West Nile virus

Acute cerebellar ataxia may take weeks to appear after a viral infection.

What are the symptoms of acute cerebellar ataxia?

Symptoms of acute cerebellar ataxia include:

  • Troubled coordination in the trunk or arms and legs

  • Frequent stumbling

  • Unsteady gait

  • Uncontrollable or repetitive eye movements

  • Difficulty eating and performing fine motor skills

  • Confused reason

  • Voice changes

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness

These symptoms are also associated with several other conditions that affect the nervous system. It is important to see your doctor to get the correct diagnosis.


How is acute cerebellar ataxia diagnosed?

The doctor will perform several tests to determine if you have acute cerebellar ataxia and to identify its underlying cause. The diagnostic process includes a standard clinical examination and several neurological tests. The doctor will also check:

  • Your hearing

  • Your memory

  • Balance and walking

  • Your vision

  • Your concentration

  • Your reflexes

  • Your coordination

Unless you have recently had a viral infection, the doctor will look for signs of other diseases and disorders that often lead to acute cerebellar ataxia.

The tests you may need to undergo are as follows:

  • Nerve conduction study. A nerve conduction study determines whether the nerves are working properly.

  • Electromyogram. The electromyogram records and evaluates the electrical activity in the muscles.

  • Lumbar puncture. A lumbar puncture allows the doctor to examine the cerebrospinal fluid, which surrounds the spinal cord and brain.

  • Complete blood count. The complete blood count determines whether there are fluctuations in the number of blood cells. In this way, the general picture of your health is evaluated.

  • CT or MRI. The doctor will look for signs of brain damage with these imaging techniques. They provide detailed images of the brain, allowing the doctor to closely examine and assess any brain damage more easily.

  • Urinalysis and ultrasound. There are some other tests that the doctor may request.


How is acute cerebellar ataxia treated?

Treatment of acute cerebellar ataxia is not always necessary. When a virus causes the disease, full recovery is expected without treatment. Viral acute cerebellar ataxia generally resolves within a few weeks without treatment.

But treatment is considered necessary if a virus is not the cause of the disease. The specific treatment plan will depend on the cause and may last weeks, years, or even a lifetime. Here are some common treatment options:

  • Surgery may be needed if the condition is the result of bleeding in the cerebellum.

  • You will need antibiotics if you have an infection.

  • Anticoagulants will help if the stroke caused the acute cerebellar ataxia.

  • You may be given medicines to treat inflammation in the cerebellum, such as steroids.

  • If a toxin is the source of acute cerebellar ataxia, reduce or eliminate exposure to it.

  • If the acute cerebellar ataxia was caused by a vitamin deficiency, get vitamin E supplements, vitamin B-12 injections, or thiamine.

  • In some cases, acute cerebellar ataxia can be caused by gluten sensitivity. In this case, you will need to adjust your diet by strictly avoiding gluten.

If you have acute cerebellar ataxia, you will need help with daily activities. Special cutlery and devices such as canes and speech aids will help. Physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy will help improve your symptoms.

Some people also find that making certain lifestyle changes can further relieve symptoms, such as changing their diet and taking nutritional supplements.


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