What Causes Acute Cerebellar Ataxia?

Acute cerebellar ataxia is a relatively common disorder that develops in the brain whenever the cerebellum becomes damaged or inflamed in some manner. The cerebellum portion of the brain is the area with direct control over muscle coordination and gait. Ataxia is a term used to describe not having precise control over voluntary movements. When individuals have been affected by acute cerebellar ataxia, this means it occurred suddenly and without much forewarning. Because of how this condition adversely affects muscle coordination, patients may find it difficult to complete daily tasks. 

While acute cerebellar ataxia can affect adults, it's most commonly found among young children between two and seven years old. Some additional symptoms attributed to this disorder include regular stumbling, headaches, slurred speech, and dizziness. The treatment recommended to patients depends on what's causing the acute cerebellar ataxia. 

Lead Or Mercury Exposure

While most causes of acute cerebellar ataxia are related to diseases and viruses that attack the nervous system, there are also some additional causes such as lead or mercury exposure. Both mercury and lead are highly toxic substances that can lead to a wide range of harmful side effects within the body and brain. Mercury can be found in small amounts within many different food products and items, which shouldn't create many issues with an individual's health. However, consuming too much of this toxic metal through seafood or a similar reason may cause mercury poisoning. Most of the side effects pertaining to mercury exposure are neurological side effects. 

It's possible for the cerebellum to be damaged by mercury exposure to the point where acute cerebellar ataxia occurs. The same is true with lead poisoning. When lead builds up within the body, patients may experience a range of symptoms that extend from acute cerebellar ataxia to death. This buildup can occur over months or even years. Lead is found in high amounts within lead-based arts supplies and gasoline purchased outside of the United States.

Measles And Mumps

Both measles and mumps are highly contagious viral infections and can pass to another individual through infected saliva or mucus. Measles affects the respiratory systems, while mumps causes problems with the salivary glands. When patients begin to suffer from mumps, the main symptom they will experience is a swelling of the salivary glands along with headaches, fatigue, and a loss of appetite. Measles is a very serious infection that is among the most common causes of death in children. The main symptoms attributed to measles include a fever, coughing, muscle aches, white spots in the mouth, a sore throat, and a runny nose.

A red rash is among the first signs of measles. Infants and young children receive vaccinations for both measles and mumps that substantially reduce the chances of either of these infections. Both measles and mumps must work their way through the body before patients can begin to feel better. The symptoms should dissipate in anywhere from two to three weeks. As the infections are progressing through the body, it's possible the cerebellum could become inflamed, which may bring about acute cerebellar ataxia.


Chickenpox is yet another viral infection that regularly causes acute cerebellar ataxia. This infection also leads to the production of a large number of itchy blisters. Because the vaccine for chickenpox is administered to most children, the infection is rare. This condition becomes contagious around twenty-four to forty-eight hours before the blisters appear, which makes it easy to spread. Aside from the substantial amount of itching that occurs with chickenpox, this infection is relatively mild and mainly occurs in younger children below ten years old. 

However, the symptoms can be more severe than usual when the infection is contracted by older children and adults. Other symptoms to look out for include a headache, fever, and stomach ache. Treatment usually involves some natural remedies like taking lukewarm baths and wearing loose clothes while sleeping. It's possible for this infection to cause inflammation in the brain, which may bring about acute cerebellar ataxia.

Vitamin Deficiencies

In order for the body to function properly in all areas, it's important for it to receive the right amount of vitamins, which can include everything from vitamin C to vitamin B12. Vitamin deficiencies occur when the body isn't receiving the amount of a certain vitamin it needs. Some of these deficiencies can lead to problems in an individual's nervous system, which makes it possible for the brain to be damaged from a lack of certain vitamins. 

The main vitamin deficiencies that can heighten a patient's risk of acute cerebellar ataxia include vitamins E, B1, and B12. Vitamin B1 is commonly found in pork, nuts, legumes, and eggs. B12 is found in abundance among red meat and similar animal products. For vitamin E, it's important to consume a large number of nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils.

Bleeding In The Cerebellum

Among the most serious causes of acute cerebellar ataxia is bleeding in the cerebellum. Any damage to the cerebellum substantially increases a patient's risk of being affected by this condition. When bleeding is occurring in the cerebellum, this means the patient is suffering from an intracranial hemorrhage. The bleeding is usually the result of some type of injury or trauma to the head. 

This condition is life-threatening, which means individuals should visit the emergency room if they notice any symptoms. The main symptoms of bleeding in the cerebellum include confusion, sudden headaches, a long-lasting headache, regular vomiting, drowsiness, seizures, and a coma. Treatment is only effective if patients obtain it shortly after the injury has occurred before too much bleeding has happened.