Understanding Sydenham’s Chorea: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

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If you have recently been diagnosed with Sydenham’s chorea, you’re not alone. This neurological disorder is relatively rare, but it’s estimated that up to 10,000 people in the United States suffer from it. In this blog, we’ll discuss the causes, symptoms, treatments and natural remedies for Sydenham’s chorea, to help you better understand this condition and take control of your health.

What is Sydenham’s Chorea?

Sydenham’s chorea, also known as St. Vitus’ dance, is a neurological disorder caused by an autoimmune reaction to a streptococcal infection. It is characterized by sudden, uncontrolled, jerky movements of the arms, legs, face, and trunk. It is most often seen in children between the ages of 5 and 15 and is thought to be caused by an abnormal immune response to a streptococcal infection.

The symptoms of Sydenham’s chorea are usually mild, but can be debilitating and can significantly affect a person’s quality of life. It is important to understand the causes, symptoms, and treatments for this condition in order to live a healthy and happy life.

Causes of Sydenham’s Chorea

Sydenham’s chorea is caused by an autoimmune reaction to a streptococcal infection. The infection is usually a result of untreated strep throat or scarlet fever. It is thought that the infection triggers an abnormally strong immune response, which in turn causes the body to attack its own brain cells. This leads to the uncontrollable movements characteristic of Sydenham’s chorea.

In addition to the autoimmune response, genetics may play a role in the development of Sydenham’s chorea. Research suggests that certain genetic mutations may increase the risk of developing this condition.

Symptoms of Sydenham’s Chorea

The most common symptom of Sydenham’s chorea is the sudden, jerky movements of the arms, legs, face, and trunk. These movements are often described as “dance-like” and can be quite disconcerting for those affected. Other symptoms of Sydenham’s chorea include:

  • Uncontrollable facial grimacing
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty with coordination and balance
  • Memory problems
  • Behavioural changes, such as hyperactivity or aggression

It is important to note that Sydenham’s chorea can also cause psychological symptoms, such as depression and anxiety.

Diagnosis of Sydenham’s Chorea

The diagnosis of Sydenham’s chorea is typically made through a combination of physical examination, medical history, and laboratory tests. During a physical examination, the doctor may evaluate the patient’s reflexes, muscle tone, and coordination. A blood test may also be performed to check for antibodies to streptococcal bacteria.

In some cases, an MRI or CT scan may be ordered to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms. In some cases, a genetic test may be ordered to identify any underlying genetic mutations that may be associated with Sydenham’s chorea.

Treatments for Sydenham’s Chorea

The primary treatment for Sydenham’s chorea is medication. The most commonly prescribed medication is a type of anticonvulsant called valproic acid. This medication works by stabilizing the nerve cells in the brain, which helps to reduce the severity of the symptoms. Other medications may also be prescribed, such as dopamine agonists, benzodiazepines, and antipsychotics.

In addition to medication, physical therapy may be recommended to help improve coordination and balance. Speech therapy may also be recommended to help improve communication skills.

Natural remedies for Sydenham’s Chorea

In addition to conventional treatments, there are a number of natural remedies that may help reduce the symptoms of Sydenham’s chorea. These include:

  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet: Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help reduce inflammation and support the immune system. Foods high in vitamins and minerals, such as fruits and vegetables, should be included in the diet.
  • Increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake: Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce the symptoms of Sydenham’s chorea. Some good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish, nuts, and flaxseed.
  • Taking probiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help improve digestive health and support the immune system. Taking a daily probiotic supplement may help reduce the symptoms of Sydenham’s chorea.
  • Exercising regularly: Regular exercise can help reduce stress and improve overall health. It is important to choose an appropriate exercise program that is tailored to your specific needs.

Diet and lifestyle changes for Sydenham’s Chorea

In addition to natural remedies, there are a number of dietary and lifestyle changes that can help reduce the symptoms of Sydenham’s chorea. These include:

  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet: Eating a balanced diet can help reduce inflammation and support the immune system. Foods high in vitamins and minerals, such as fruits and vegetables, should be included in the diet.
  • Reducing sugar intake: Sugar can have a negative effect on the immune system, so it is important to limit sugar intake.
  • Avoiding processed foods: Processed foods can contain artificial additives and preservatives, which can have a negative effect on health.
  • Avoiding caffeine: Caffeine can have a negative effect on the nervous system, so it is important to limit caffeine intake.
  • Getting enough sleep: Sleep is essential for good health and can help reduce stress. Make sure to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

Coping with Sydenham’s Chorea

Living with Sydenham’s chorea can be difficult, but there are ways to cope with the condition. It is important to reach out to family and friends for support and to find a therapist or support group if needed.

It is also important to keep a positive attitude and practice self-care. Taking time for yourself to relax and do things that make you feel good can help reduce stress and improve your overall outlook.

Resources for Sydenham’s Chorea

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Sydenham’s chorea, it is important to seek help. There are a number of resources available to help you better understand the condition and to find support.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides information about Sydenham’s chorea, including research, diagnosis, and treatment options. There are also a number of support groups and organizations dedicated to providing support and resources for those living with Sydenham’s chorea.

Conclusion

Living with Sydenham’s chorea can be challenging, but it is possible to manage the condition and live a healthy, happy life. It is important to seek medical treatment, practice natural remedies, make dietary and lifestyle changes, and find support. With the right approach, Sydenham’s chorea can be managed and those affected can live a full and meaningful life.
Sydenham’s chorea – Wikipedia
Sydenham Chorea | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (nih.gov)

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