Why is Muscular Dystrophy Such a Health Risk to Everyone 1

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					Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a genetic disorder that causes weakness in the
muscles that allow your body to move. Patients that have MD have do not
have the correct information in their genes. This prevents the body from
making the proper proteins needed for healthy muscles. Because Muscular
Dystrophy is genetic, you have the problem at birth. You cannot catch it
from another person, so it is by no means contagious.The major problem
with MD is that over time, it weakens the muscles. Because of this
children, teens and adults who have been diagnosed with the disease will
gradually lose their ability to do most of the things that we usually
take for granted, such as: walking around, standing or sitting up. The
muscle problems can affect a baby or the symptoms might begin later in
life and it is not uncommon for adults to develop the disease.Muscular
Dystrophy is not just one disease. The term refers to a group of genetic
or hereditary disorders that destroy the muscles and that vary from the
age of onset, the muscles that initially attacked and the rate the
disease progresses. All of the types of Muscular dystrophy have one
common problem and that is the progressive weakness and wasting of the
body's muscles.How is Muscular Dystrophy Diagnosed by a Doctor?It is a
known fact that Muscular Dystrophy is a genetic or inheritable disease.
It is still a mystery why two individuals who are genetically the same
often get Muscular Dystrophy of different severities. The diagnosis of MD
is based on a combination of clinical presentation, blood tests and the
results of muscle biopsy.A physical examination or medical history is
critical and your doctor will ask you all types of questions about any
concerns or symptoms you have, your past health history, your family's
health history, any medications that you are taking, any known allergies
you have and other issues.Certain tests can help the doctor determine
exactly which type of Muscular Dystrophy you have and eliminate any other
diseases that can affect the muscles or nerves. Some tests are able to
measure how the nerves and muscles are actually functioning. Other tests
will be to check the blood for specific levels of certain enzymes and the
proteins that are involved in converting food to energy. The presence of
abnormally high blood levels of specific enzymes from the muscle cells is
typically present in many people with the disease.Sometimes it is
necessary to obtain a muscle biopsy. If this is necessary, the doctor
will remove a small piece of muscle tissue and then the tissue sample is
examined under a microscope. If you have the disease, the sample of
muscle tissue will display some rather large fibers and they will also
show a breaking down of other fibers in the sample. Genetic testing can
also be performed.What are the Treatment Options for Muscular
Dystrophy?At the present time, there is no cure for Muscular Dystrophy,
but research by doctors and scientists continues to find one. Some of the
on going research involves trying to correct the defective genes so they
will make the right proteins. Others are trying to produce chemicals that
will function like the proteins in the body. They hope that either
approach will help the muscles to perform and work properly. The doctors
and scientists are very dedicated to find the absolute best ways to treat
the various symptoms, so that all kids, all teens and all adults with
this horrible disease can live more comfortably and happily as
possible.There is also no specific treatment to cure or halt the disease.
Patients may find some benefit from physical therapy and light exercise.
It may be necessary to use orthopedic appliances, such as crutches,
braces and wheelchairs. Sometimes the doctor will recommend corrective
orthopedic surgery to help preserve muscle function and prevent
stiffening of the muscles near the joints as much as possible to improve
quality of life.Steroids are used to slow the disease progression, but
long term or high doses of steroids can cause serious problems and they
do not affect the final outcome.The identification of the actual genes
that are responsible for the various types of the disease has led to very
extensive research on both gene and molecular therapy, but at the present
time, all such treatments are still experimental. The use of Genetic
counseling is highly recommended for families of affected individuals to
determine if there are other family members who carry the defective gene
so that the can participate in prenatal testing.What are the Specific
Symptoms of Muscular Dystrophy?The Principal and Obvious Symptoms
include:* The wasting of muscle, which occurs over time and is
progressive, muscle weakness and the loss of function or ability to
control the muscles* In the Duchenne form, there is usually a delay in
the development, in children, of the basic muscle skills and
The most Common signs are those of poor balance with the child
experiencing frequent falls, difficulty with walking, waddling with a
duck like gait, pain in the calves of the legs and a limited range of
movement* Inability to exercise or even play can cause Obesity*
Stiffening of the muscles near the joints (Joint contractures)* Vision
problems due to Cataracts, baldness on the front of the head, eyelid
drooping, atrophy of the gonads and even mental impairmentThe types of
Muscular Dystrophy are specifically classified according to the location
or group of the muscles that are involved, the age when symptoms appear,
the rate that the symptoms actually progress and the manner in which the
defective gene is passed on. The symptoms and the prognosis can vary,
depending on the type. The disease may affect some of the muscles or even
all muscles, it may develop during sometime during childhood or even
adulthood, it can progress either very gradually or rapidly and may or
may not be severely disabling.Muscular Dystrophy weakens different muscle
groups in various ways:* Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is the most
common type of the disease and is caused by a defect with the gene that
makes a protein called dystrophin. This protein helps to regulate the
muscle cells to keep their shape and strength. Without the protein, the
muscles break down and a person gradually becomes weaker.DMD affects boys
and usually begins somewhere between ages 2-6. By age 10-12, kids often
need to use a wheelchair. The heart may also be affected, so they need to
be monitored closely by a cardio-pulmonary specialist. They can also
develop curvature of the spine and tightness in their joints.
Unfortunately, over time, the muscles that control their breathing become
weaker and they may need a ventilator to breathe. People with this type
of MD usually do not survive beyond their late teens or early adulthood.*
Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD), also affects boys. It is very similar to
DMD, but the symptoms may start later in life and can be less severe.BMD
also involves the breakdown of muscles and weakness. Sometimes it does
not begin until age 10 or older. The patient can also experience problems
with breathing, abnormal heart rhythms, bone deterioration and muscle,
and joint problems. Many people with this type of the disease are able to
live long, active lives without having to use a wheelchair. The severity
of any breathing and heart problems will determine how long the patient
will survive.* Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD) usually begins
causing symptoms from late childhood to early teens and even as late as
age 25.EDMD affects mostly boys. It affects the muscles in the shoulders,
the upper arms and the shins and it often causes the joints to become. It
can also affect the heart.* Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD) affects
both boys and girls equally. It weakens the muscles in the shoulder areas
and upper arms and even around the hips and thighs.LGMD can begin during
early childhood or even as late as mid-adulthood. It usually progresses
slowly, but over time, it might be necessary to use a wheelchair to get
around. There are several different types of this form, each one having
its own unique features.* Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD)
can affect both guys and girls. It usually begins during the teens to
early adulthood.FSHD affects the muscles in the face and shoulder areas
and can sometimes cause weakness in the lower legs. Patients may have
trouble lifting their arms, closing their eyes tightly or even whistling.
The affects of this condition vary from patient to patient and it can
even be very mild in some people.* Myotonic dystrophy (MMD) is a form of
muscular dystrophy that causes a problem with the muscles being able to
relax.In teens especially, it can cause weakness of the muscles and
muscle shrinking or wasting over time, heart problems and even
cataracts.* Congenital muscular dystrophy (CMD) is the term used for all
types of the disease, in babies and young children that show signs.Like
the other forms, it involves weakness of the muscles and poor muscle
tone. It occurs in both girls and boys and can have symptoms that are
different. It can vary in how severely someone is affected and even how
fast or slowly it worsens. In rare cases, this form can cause both
learning disabilities and mental retardation.The life expectancy of an
individual for many of these types of muscular dystrophy will depend on
which muscle groups are affected, how severely that have become weakened
and how much the heart and lungs have been affected. Because our bodies
rely on specific muscles to breathe, some patients with the disease need
respiratory assistance, such as a ventilator, to help them with their
breathing. It's also critical that a cardiologist monitor patients with
heart problems that were caused by muscular dystrophy.It is sad, but
often true, that people with any type of illness that gradually worsens
over time can feel cut off from friends or even family members. Try
planning activities that include them. Your friend or family member will
always be the same person to you, but only more limited in movement.

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