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Early signs and symptoms of muscular dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy is the umbrella term for more than 150 neuromuscular diseases caused by genetic mutations or issues with the immune system. These diseases cause muscle degeneration. They often begin with mild symptoms and slowly progress until the patient is no longer able to walk or swallow. While muscular dystrophy is most often characterized as a childhood illness, several types of muscular dystrophy appear later in adult life. Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy (MMD), for example, is the most common form of adult-onset muscular dystrophy.

While muscular dystrophy is a relatively rare disease, it is still smart to be aware of the early signs and symptoms, whether for you or a loved one.

Most common symptoms in children ages 2-3 afflicted with the most common form of muscular dystrophy, Duchenne:

1. Frequent Falls
2. Difficulty getting up from a lying or sitting position
3. Trouble running and jumping
4. Waddling gait
5. Walking on the toes
6. Large calf muscles
7. Muscle pain and stiffness
8. Learning disabilities

Symptoms of adult-onset myotonic dystrophy, as explained by the National Human Genome Research Institute are as follows:

1. Muscle weakness in the lower legs, hands, neck, or face
2. Slow to relax muscles after use
3. Unable to release the grip in a handshake or a door knob
4. Cataracts
5. Irregular heart beat
6. Balding or infertility in men

Muscular dystrophy is diagnosed by a doctor in a physical exam and with the aid of laboratory testing, including genetic testing. While there is no cure for muscular dystrophy, recommends eating foods rich in Vitamin E, such as avocados and almonds, as well as Brazil nuts and sardines, which have high concentrations of selenium, to improve symptoms.