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What Are The Ways To Prevent Neuromyelitis Optica & Does It Reoccur?

Neuromyelitis Optica refers to a condition of the central nervous system, in which chiefly the eye nerves and spinal cord are affected, leading to optic neuritis and myelitis respectively. This condition is also known by the name Devic’s disease. This condition arises, when your own immune system mistakenly starts targeting, attacking and damaging your own healthy cells of the central nervous system. Neuromyelitis Optica cannot be cured.(1)

What Are The Ways To Prevent Neuromyelitis Optica?

Neuromyelitis Optica cannot be prevented in the first place, because the cause for it is unknown. However, treatment may give you long-term remission and reverse symptoms. Future attacks can be prevented though, with proper and efficient management.(2)

Does Neuromyelitis Optica Reoccur?

The attacks in neuromyelitis Optica may occur over a period of days or weeks. This is known as monophasic NMO. If there is a long time between the two episodes of NMO, it is known as relapsing NMO. Either way, it cannot be cured completely, and attacks can keep coming. With proper and efficient management of the condition, future attacks can be prevented.(2)

The signs and symptoms of neuromyelitis Optica may be classified under two categories. These comprise of-

Optic Neuritis-

  • Optic neuritis refers to the inflammation of the optic nerve. The optic nerve is responsible for carrying information from your eye to your brain.
  • There may be a sudden or abrupt pain in your eyes.
  • Other symptoms like inability to see clearly, blindness may follow later.
  • These signs are usually witnessed in only one eye. However, it is not unusual that they occur in both eyes.(1)

Transverse Myelitis-

  • This condition refers to the inflammation of the spinal cord.
  • This inflammation can impact your limbs and can cause weakness, pain, numbness or even paralysis.
  • As a result of this condition, you may lose control over bowels and bladder.
  • There may be other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, hiccups, headaches, stiff neck, etc.
  • In children, there may be confusion or delirium, seizures, or they may land in a coma.(1)

Causes Of Neuromyelitis Optica

  • The exact cause of NMO is not yet known.
  • There is no family history as such.
  • However, it is seen that most of the people who suffer from NMO or other family members also have some other autoimmune disorders like type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, vitiligo, etc. in conditions like these, your own immune system mistakenly targets and destroys your healthy cells.(1)

Prognosis For Neuromyelitis Optica

  • Most of the persons who suffer from this condition have an unpredictable course of the disease.
  • They get attacks that may be spaced days, weeks, months or years apart.
  • As a result, the disability resulting from the attacks is cumulative, because each new attack damages new areas of myelin.
  • The symptoms may go away in between but when they come back, they may be much worse than before.
  • In severe cases of NMO, there may be a vision loss in both eyes and both limbs may lose their function.
  • Most cases present with moderate loss of limb function.
  • Due to the muscle weakness caused by attacks of NMO, there may be respiration difficulties and there may be a need for artificial ventilation.
  • Usually, if there is a death with NMO, it is due to respiratory complications or failure.(3)

Many types of research and studies are ongoing. The focus of these studies is to find new and improved ways of preventing, treating and curing such rare neurological syndromes like NMO.


Neuromyelitis Optica cannot be prevented in the first place since its cause is not known. However, the future attacks of this condition may be prevented with the help of proper management. Neuromyelitis Optica cannot be cured, but symptoms can be reversed, and the condition can be managed with proper treatment.


Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 1, 2019

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