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How Do I Know If I Have Neuromyelitis Optica & Is It Degenerative?

Neuromyelitis optica is a condition that affects the spinal cord and optic nerve. In some cases, the condition also affects the brain. The symptoms of this condition may overlap with other conditions such as multiple sclerosis but the presence of a specific antibody indicates this disease.

Neuromyelitis Optica is also known as Devic’s disease and neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder. It is a disease of the central nervous system which affects the eye and spinal cord. It is not a very common disease. Neuromyelitis Optica occurs when the immune system of the body attacks healthy cells in the central nervous system especially in the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerve, when the attack occurs frequently such as in days or weeks, the condition is specifically known as monophasic neuromyelitis optica. When the frequency of this condition is less and the attack occurs in month or year, it is known as relapsing neuromyelitis optica.1

How Do I Know If I Have Neuromyelitis Optica & Is It Degenerative?

How Do I Know If I Have Neuromyelitis Optica & Is It Degenerative?

Neuromyelitis optica is highly degenerative disease and the severity of symptoms increases with every further attack. The patient may experience poor vision, low vision at night and complete vision loss. The patient also experiences numbness and weakness in arms and legs.

Pain In Eyes: In neuromyelitis optica, pain occurs in the eye especially during eye movement and severity increases with subsequent attacks.

Vision Loss: Neuromyelitis may cause complete vision loss. Vision loss can cause in one or both eyes. It is because neuromyelitis mainly affects optic nerves. Optic nerves are responsible for carrying signals from the eyes to the brain.

Paralysis: Neuromyelitis cause paralysis in arms and legs. In this condition, neuromyelitis optic inhibits the function of muscles of arms and legs. It occurs due to the attack of the immune system on the spinal cord as it is responsible for conduction of impulses to arms and legs.

Difficulty In Controlling Bladder And Bowel: During neuromyelitis, bowel dysfunction occurs because spinal cord plays an important role in controlling bowel functions in the body and spinal cord is damaged during neuromyelitis optica.

Vomiting And Hiccups: Vomiting and hiccup is a peripheral and central disease. Vomiting and hiccups are common in neurological disease which is caused due to the occurrence of lesions in the medulla. Neuromyelitis optica also a part of neurological disease.2

Weakness And Numbness: Numbness and weakness are caused by damage in the spinal cord.

Other Neurological Symptoms: Children with neuromyelitis optica suffer from confusion and have a seizure. In this condition, children may fall into coma.3

Complications Of Neuromyelitis Optica

Breathing Problem: Neuromyelitis optica cause weakness and numbness in the patients because weakness causes tiredness in body muscles, it results in a decreased level of oxygen and increases carbon dioxide in the blood. Weak muscles also cause difficulty in inhaling and exhale.

Depression: This is a mental disorder of patients with neuromyelitis optica. Commonly a patient goes into depression when symptoms of neuromyelitis optica are severe.

Paralysis: Patient’s legs and hand become paralyze due to severe damage of spinal cord in subsequent attacks of neuromyelitis optica. In neuromyelitis optica, the spinal cord is not able to perform its function properly.

Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is a bone disorder. Osteoporosis is caused due to chronic intake of steroid as a treatment for neuromyelitis optica. Steroidal therapy causes small pores in bone and makes them weak and prone to fracture.

Erectile And Sexual Dysfunction: Some men feel problem in achieving and maintaining an erection. Both men and women aces difficulty in achieving orgasm.4

Respiratory Failure: Respiratory failure is a rare and serious complication of neuromyelitis optica. The high dose of steroids and plasmapheresis provides relief during treatment of acute respiratory failure.

Permanent Vision Loss: Permanent vision loss occurs in patients with neuromyelitis optica. This disease causes severe damage in the optic nerve which is responsible for transferring visual information from retina to the vision center of the brain through electrical impulses.5


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 17, 2019

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