Is Devic’s Disease Fatal?

Understanding Devic’s Disease?

Devic’s Disease which is also known by the name of Neuromyelitis Optica is a pathological condition of the central nervous system affecting primarily the optic nerves and the spinal cord. Devic’s Disease develops when the body’s immune system attacks the central nervous system of the body specifically the optic nerves and the spinal cord causing a variety of symptoms including vision problems, imbalance, and bowel and bladder dysfunction. At times, Devic’s Disease can also affect the brain.

The primary cause for Devic’s Disease is not clearly known. An infection may sometimes lead to the development of this condition and at times another autoimmune disorder may cause Devic’s Disease. In some cases, Devic’s Disease has been misdiagnosed as Multiple Sclerosis due to the similarity of the symptoms between the two conditions; however, these two medical conditions are entirely different.

Devic’s Disease is a condition which may result in partial or complete blindness which may be temporary or permanent based on the extent of the disease. It may also cause paralysis of the upper or lower extremities and dysfunction of the bowel and bladder due to the damage done to the spinal cord.

In cases where children are affected, then they may experience seizures, mental confusion or even coma as a result of Devic’s Disease. The question that many patients ask regarding Devic’s Disease is whether this disease is fatal. This article gives a brief insight as to the life expectancy of an individual with Devic’s Disease.

Is Devic’s Disease Fatal?

Now coming to the question of whether Devic’s Disease is fatal or not, it totally depends on the severity of the condition and how much damage has been caused to the vital organs of the body such as the brain and the spinal cord. In case if the first episode of Devic’s Disease is extremely severe, then the prognosis is quite poor for the affected individual. Additionally, the life expectancy of the individual decreases significantly in cases where there are frequent recurrences of the symptoms within the first two years of the onset of symptoms. The age of the patient at the time of the onset of the symptoms also play a part in determining the life expectancy of the individual. The older the patient the less chances are of the patient recovering from the episode.

With each relapse of Devic’s Disease, the chance of the individual surviving becomes less and less with more damage being done to the spinal cord and the central nervous system as a whole. This usually results in permanent muscle weakness, paralysis, vision loss, and respiratory failure to which the patient ultimately succumbs to. However, the mortality rate due to Devic’s Disease is around 25-30%.

In conclusion, Devic’s Disease is a condition which can be fatal in up to 30% of cases where the diagnosis and treatment has been delayed or the disease has been left untreated. An individual with an untreated Devic’s Disease will succumb to the condition within five years of the onset of symptoms. Respiratory failure due to the damage done to the spinal cord is the primary cause of fatality due to Devic’s Disease.

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