You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, in some cases, your doctor may refer you immediately to a neurologist.
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. When you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet.
- Write down your symptoms, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking.
- Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Someone who accompanies you may remember something you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For ataxia, some basic questions to ask include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
- Other than the most likely cause, what are other possible causes?
- What tests do I need?
- Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
- What is the best course of action?
- Are there devices that can help me with coordination?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach you're suggesting?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there restrictions I need to follow?
- Should I see a specialist?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
- Are there brochures or other printed material I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
- Can I participate in any research studies related to ataxia?
Don't hesitate to ask other questions.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:
- When did your symptoms begin?
- Are your symptoms continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What seems to improve your symptoms?
- What seems to worsen your symptoms?
- Do you have family members who have had these types of symptoms?
- Do you use alcohol or drugs?
- Have you been exposed to toxins?
- Have you had a virus recently?
What you can do in the meantime
Don't drink alcohol or take recreational drugs, which can make your ataxia worse.
March 29, 2014
- NINDS ataxias and cerebellar or spinocerebellar degeneration information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/ataxia/ataxia.htm. Accessed Nov. 21, 2013.
- Frequently asked questions about Fredreich's ataxia (FRDA). National Ataxia Foundation. http://www.ataxia.org/resources/publications.aspx. Accessed Nov. 21, 2013.
- Frequently asked questions about episodic ataxia. National Ataxia Foundation. http://www.ataxia.org/resources/publications.aspx. Accessed Nov. 21, 2013.
- Taylor JP, et al. Overview of cerebral ataxia in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 21, 2013.
- Opal P, et al. Overview of the hereditary ataxias. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 21, 2013.
- Fact sheet: Ataxia telangiectasia. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/ataxia. Accessed Nov. 21, 2013.
- Frequently asked questions about ataxia. National Ataxia Foundation. http://www.ataxia.org/resources/publications.aspx. Accessed Nov. 21, 2013.