Muscular dystrophy is a cluster of diseases that cause gradual weakness and loss of muscle mass with time. In this condition, abnormal genes (mutations) interfere with the production of proteins needed to form healthy muscle.
There are many different kinds of muscular dystrophy. Symptoms of the most common variety initiate in childhood, mainly in boys. Other types don't surface until adulthood.
There can be a loss in the ability of walking in the people who are suffering from muscular dystrophy. Few may have trouble in breathing or swallowing.
Still, there is no cure available for muscular dystrophy. But medications and therapy can help in managing symptoms and slow the course of the disease.
Causes of Muscular Dystrophy
There are some certain genes which are involved in making proteins that further save muscle fibers from getting damage. If one of these genes gets defected, muscular dystrophy occurs.
Each form of muscular dystrophy is caused by a genetic mutation specific to that type of the disease. Many of these mutations are inherited. But some occur spontaneously in the mother's egg or the developing embryo and can be passed on to the next generation.
Muscular dystrophy happens in both sexes and in all ages and races. However, the most common variety, Duchenne, generally occurs in young boys. People who are having a family history of muscular dystrophy are at higher risk of developing the disease or passing it on to their children.
The complications of progressive muscle weakness include:
- Unable to walk - Some people with muscular dystrophy eventually need to use a wheelchair.
- Contractures - Contractures can further limit mobility.
- Breathing problems - Gradual weakness can affect the muscles associated with breathing. People with muscular dystrophy may eventually need to use a breathing assistance device (ventilator), initially at night but possibly also in the day.
- Problem with spine – The weak muscles will be unable to hold the spine straight.
- Problems associated with heart - Muscular dystrophy may lower the efficiency of the heart muscle.
- Problem associated with Swallowing - If the muscles that are involved with swallowing gets affected, nutritional problems and aspiration pneumonia will be developed. Feeding tubes may be an option.