Neuromyelitis optica is a rare disease that causes demyelination of the nervous system and primarily affects the spinal cord and optic nerves. It is also known as Devic’s disease, named after Eugene Davis, who was the first to identify symptoms in 1894. The optic neuritis is inflammation and demyelination of the optic nerve (cranial nerves II) serving the retina of the eye. Typically, one eye is affected first, but both the eyes may be affected simultaneously. There may be a pain as well while moving the eyeball. Transverse myelitis, on the other hand, affects the spinal cord.(1) (2)
Lifestyle Changes For Neuromyelitis Optica
Diet: Neuromyelitis optica does not imply that you have to follow a particular diet. The ideal way to ensure your body receives all the necessary nutrition is by having a diet which is well-balanced with varied nutrients. The correct nutrition makes the nervous system functions optimally. It helps in maintaining its cells and structure while performing the necessary repairs. A healthy diet may also assist in achieving maximum benefits from the medical therapies you are taking. A balanced diet helps in improving the results of your treatment and boosts your general health and well-being.
Lifestyle Changes: Living with neuromyelitis optica may imply you had to deal with a range of symptoms including chronic pain, muscle spasms, fatigue, depressed mood, reduced mobility, numbness in limbs, bladder and bowel problems. These symptoms can all potentially impact on your day to day eating habits and activity levels. In addition, the side effects of medications used to treat the disease may also have an effect on your daily dietary intake and wellbeing.
Maintaining healthy lifestyle choices can reduce the effect of the symptoms and help you continue a better standard of living. Try to maintain the following habits:
Quit Smoking: Smoking increases the chance of pulmonary infection, cancer, quickens decline of mental state/stability, increase heart attack and stroke risks, damage arteries, increase the chance of auto-immune disorders, and raises the risk of osteoporosis.
Limit Alcohol Intake: Moderate drinking is fine, but overuse of alcohol can severely affect your liver and impairs your natural ability to fight infections.
Exercise Daily: Daily exercise keeps you healthy and helps keep your body in better condition. This, in turn, helps you to cope with the symptoms better. It also enables you to maintain a healthy weight. Exercise for at least 2.5 hours a week to stay healthy. Remember, your daily chores like cycling, walking, washing, cleaning, etc. also count as exercise.
Maintain Routine: Maintain a healthy routine by taking breakfast, lunch, and dinner at a specific time every day. Make a routine and follow it to avoid delay or skipping of medicines, exercise, and other important activities.(3) (4)
There are two types of neuromyelitis optica:
Recurrent Form (Multiphasic): There is a first onset of the disease followed by subsequent attacks (causing damage to the nerve cells) over a period of several years.
Sometimes the patient cannot fully recover from the neurological damage of the optic nerve or spinal cord. As the damage is permanent, it may result in disability. Women are more prone to this type of neuromyelitis optica (4:1).
Monophasic Neuromyelitis Optica: There can be attacks for a period of days or weeks, but there are no subsequent attacks. This form of the disease can affect both men and women equally.(2)
Neuromyelitis optica is a rare and incurable autoimmune disorder. But it can be effectively managed in most cases if diagnosed early and the patient is compliant with the treatment. There is no specific lifestyle or diet regime for neuromyelitis optica, but a healthy diet and lifestyle helps in controlling the disease, better prognosis, therapeutic outcome, and coping with the symptoms.
- Pittock SJ. Neuromyelitis optica: a new perspective. Paper presented at: Seminars in neurology2008.
- Wingerchuk DM, Lennon VA, Lucchinetti CF, Pittock SJ, Weinshenker BG. The spectrum of neuromyelitis optica. The Lancet Neurology. 2007;6(9):805-815.
- Wingerchuk DM, Weinshenker BG. Neuromyelitis optica. Current treatment options in neurology. 2008;10(1):55-66.
- Carroll WM, Fujihara K. Neuromyelitis optica. Current treatment options in neurology. 2010;12(3):244-255.
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