Ataxia can develop over time or come on suddenly, depending on the cause. Ataxia, actually a symptom of a number of neurological disorders, may cause:
- Poor coordination
- Unsteady walk and a tendency to stumble
- Difficulty with fine-motor tasks, such as eating, writing or buttoning a shirt
- Change in speech
- Involuntary back-and-forth eye movements (nystagmus)
- Difficulty swallowing
When to see a doctor
If you aren't aware of having a condition that causes ataxia, such as multiple sclerosis, see your doctor if you:
Mar. 01, 2011
- Lose balance
- Lose muscle coordination in a hand, arm or leg
- Have difficulty walking
- Slur your speech
- Have difficulty swallowing
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- Frequently asked questions about Fredreich's ataxia (FRDA). National Ataxia Foundation. http://www.ataxia.org/resources/publications.aspx. Accessed Dec.30, 2010.
- Paulson HL. The spinocerebellar ataxias. Journal of Neuro-Opthalmology. 2009;29:227.
- Frequently asked questions about episodic ataxia. National Ataxia Foundation. http://www.ataxia.org/resources/publications.aspx. Accessed Dec. 9, 2010.
- Klockgether T. Sporadic ataxia with adult onset: Classification and diagnostic criteria. The Lancet Neurology. 2010;9:94.
- Ataxia-Telangiectasia (A-T). National Ataxia Foundation. http://www.ataxia.org/resources/publications.aspx. Accessed Dec. 9, 2010.
- Ataxia telangiectasia: Fact sheet. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/ataxiaqa. Accessed Dec. 9, 2010.
- Opal P, et al. Overview of the hereditary ataxias. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 22, 2010.