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Mitochondrial Disease Life Expectancy Symptoms Of Ailment

Updated on February 9, 2016


One cannot say when the person develops mitochondrial disorder. This ailment is serious because it affects the life function of the cells within the body. Energy required to sustain life is stopped and thereby brings about the death of the person. For children, the mitochondrial disease life expectancy is that they will not live beyond their teen years2

Though mitochondrial disease manifests when the children are young, adults too may develop this ailment. Usual signs are exercise intolerance and growing body pain. This can intensify even with treatment. Let us see what this is and why it is so serious.

Learn about mito disorder

Mitochondrial disease is an ailment that affects the inner cell structure element known as mitochondria. These mitochondria are the source of energy in the cell. About 89% of all energy produced and consumed in the body is processed by the mitochondria. When the mitochondria fail, the body cannot convert oxygen and food into energy and thus begins to fail.

Types and signs of disorder

Mitochondrial disease might be hereditary in the sense it is passed on through the genes from the parent to the offspring. Yet, in some other cases, environmental factors like pollution or onset of infectious diseases can spell the beginning of the mito ailment. Vital organs that require energy such as heart, liver, brain, lung and muscles begin to collapse due to lack of energy. Outwardly manifested symptoms would include the following signs:

Mild symptoms

  • Difficulty when swallowing
  • Vomiting
  • Heart problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Lactic acidosis
  • Immune system problems
  • Muscle failure
  • Deafness
  • Blindness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation

Severe symptoms

  • Seizures
  • Intolerance to temperature changes
  • Feeding problems
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Repeated infections
  • Fevers without any origin

Usual signal for the mito disease is when any disease exhibits atypical quality. Or more than two or three organs may fail. . And the mitochondrial disease life expectancy has always been poor. So, begin treatment and keep your options open. Adults who experience late onset mito disorder will face problems like loss of work due to physical shortcoming brought by the disease, lack of income due to loss of work and difficulty in carrying out normal chores4.

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Symptoms may appear late in life

 Photo credit: miss_rogue via / CC BY-SA
Photo credit: miss_rogue via / CC BY-SA | Source

Types of disorders

Disorders of the mitochondria, the energy-producer of cells include myoclonus epilepsy and Kearns—Sayre syndrome1. Some people may also experience episodes that resemble stroke. Breathlessness, nausea and headaches are common occurrences. Here are some variations of this ailment5.

  1. LHON: Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy results in sudden loss of central vision. This occurs when the male is around 20 while for women it can happen any time. There is no accompanying pain. Blurred vision spreads from one eye to the other within a few months.
  2. Leigh’s Disease: Occurring mostly in the childhood stage, Leigh’s disease occurs after some viral infection. In this ailment, the neurometabolic functioning gets progressively diminished and produce characteristic lesion of necrosis on brain stem. Symptoms usually begin with loss of fundamental skills like walking, sucking, talking and head control. Irritability, seizures, loss of appetite and vomiting will eventually manifest. The child will eventually develop heart, lung and kidney complications.
  3. Carnitine Deficiency: In this, the person develops Cardiomyopathy with coma or altered consciousness. It has autosomal recessive causes. Treatment comprises of diet with L-Carnitine supplement.
  4. KSS: Kearns—Sayre Syndrome manifest as drooping eyelids in its initial stages. This leads to eye motion paralysis. Retina has difficulty seeing things in dim environment. In addition, ataxia and high cerebrospinal levels of fluid proteins may be present. Dementia, deafness and endocrine abnormalities like growth retardation or diabetes may be present.

Treatment for disorder

There is no specific treatment for this ailment. One thing to avoid is fasting. The ailment happens due to lack of energy and fasting or dieting will not improve the cause. In fact, having short snacks throughout the day and one before going to bed will help keep up energy levels. Chemical reactions inside the body need vitamins and the cofactors. Cofactors will be produced by the body but vitamins have to be eaten in the form of food. When people suffer from mito disorder, they need more vitamins.

One must make it a point to avoid toxic substances like alcohol, pollution from air and cigarette smoke. These will slow down or stop the energy processes. There are instances when the iron in the food will break apart the DNA of the mitochondria and make the disease worse. However, this is rare. It is better to avoid food items having vitamin C when one has lean meat rich in iron3.

For patients with OXPHOS disorder, reducing dietary fats in the form of oil margarine and butter is advised.

Young adult who is sick

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