This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).
Episodic ataxia refers to a group of conditions that affect the central nervous system. It affects specific nerve fibers that carry messages to and from the brain in order to control body movement. The condition causes episodes of poor coordination and balance (ataxia). Episodes may last from a few seconds to several hours. During an episode, affected people may experience dizziness; nausea; vomiting; migraine headaches; impaired vision; slurred speech; and/or ringing in the ears (tinnitus). An attack may also cause seizures, muscle weakness, and/or paralysis of one side of the body (hemiplegia). Age of onset, symptoms and severity can vary. Some people have several attacks per day, while others may have one or two per year. Episodic ataxia may be caused by a mutation in any of several genes and is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner. In some cases, the genetic cause is unknown. Treatment may include medication that reduces or eliminates symptoms. In some cases, symptoms improve or go away on their own.
At least 8 types of episodic ataxia have been recognized (referred to as types 1 through 8), which are distinguished based on their age of onset, features, and/or genetic cause.
For more information, visit GARD.