Vestibular is an adjective referring to the inner ear but more specifically to balance.
An ataxia is a general term that refers to a flaw in the coordination of arms, legs, head (which can affect the neck as well) and torso.
There are three types of Ataxias. Sensory, vestibular (ear) and cerebellar (part of the brain that deals with balance and coordination )
-Incorrectly placed paws
-Increasing weakness with disease progression
If Central Vestibular Dysfunction:
-Abnormal eye movements
-Limb weakness (can be on one side)
If Peripheral Vestibular Dysfunction:
-Changes in normal mentor status
-Vertical eye movement
-Uncoordinated movement of the limbs, head and/or neck
-Walking in large/abnormal steps
-Head or body tremors
Depends on the type/cause of vestibular disease. Some clears in a few days to weeks others are lifelong conditions that can only be in maintenance.
There are MANY causes of the various ataxias unfortunately.
The most common cause for Sensory Ataxia is a slow compression of the spinal cord and/or brain stem as well as lesions on the cerebrum located in the brain.
Another common cause is a change in the vestibulocochlear nerve (a nerve located in the ear responsible for transmitting sound and aiding in balance) which results in abnormalities of the head and neck due to a false sense of moving.
A more comprehensive list is as follows:
Most veterinarians will ask for a complete history of your cat than perform standard tests such as blood tests.
Some veterinarians may proceed to imaging to determine the location of this disease such as the spinal cord, cerebellum or in the vestibular system.
Other tests your veterinarian may perform are computed tomography (CT) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), myelography (a medium is injected into the spine to see where dysfunction occurs), spinal, chest and abdominal x-rays as well abdominal ultrasounds.
Determining the root cause is extremely important in determining the right treatment. Most treatments aren’t known until the root is determined first and then it can be treated appropriately in most cases.
Conventional treatments involve pain management as well as supportive care via IV fluids or tube feeding depending on the severity of the vestibular disease.
Medications may be required if there is a bacterial cause such as toxoplasmosis (clindamycin) or Cryptococcus (itraconazole or fluconazole)of corticosteroids primarily for anti inflammatory properties.
Surgery may be required if there are tumors or polyps causing the dysfunction.
Changes to the home may be required to prevent further injury such a being aware of stairs that companions could tumble down.
The follow is a list of other treatments depending on the cause of vestibular disease.
Treatment will be dependent on what was ingested.
Depending on the severity treatment may be as simple as cleaning the wound while others may require surgery of the brain in which recovery may or may not be possible.
Thiamine injections may be suggested.
Cerebral hypoplasia (CH)
There is no cure for this condition.
Treatment and outcome depend on the severity of the injury.
Treating with Vitamin D and Calcium gluconate is common
Lysosomal storage disease
Unfortunately there is no treatment. Often in most cases this disease is fatal to the animals.
Often medications are prescribed like corticosteroids to reduce inflammation. If the case is more severe euthanasia may be the best choice.
Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are recommended.
Portosystemic shunt (an abnormal vein that takes blood from the intestines to the heart, bypassing the liver)
Surgery is often required
Usually FIP is the cause however this is always fatal and cannot be diagnosed until necropsy.
With Panleukopenia supportive immune boosting care is required which could involve blood transfusions.
Nasopharyngeal polyps (located in the inner ear)
Surgical removal is recommended.
Supportive care is required which can include but is not limited to oxygen therapy, anti-seizure medications, fluids and physiotherapy.
Glycogen storage disease
There is no cure for the disease and often patients pass by 18 months of age.
Treat with insulin and regularly re-evaluate the cat’s condition.
*Various homeopathic remedies can apply but one should consult with a homeopath.
Species appropriate and nutritionally balanced diet including food rich in Vitamin E and B
Omega 3’s for tissue regeneration and anti inflammatory
Elk Antler Velvet
Full Extract Cannabis Oil
Other natural treatments specifically can include:
Treatment will be dependent on what was ingested. Natural remedies include activated charcoal and hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. Please use hydrogen peroxide appropriately, inducing vomiting is not always safe.
A balanced species appropriate raw diet with food rich in thiamine.
A balanced species appropriate raw diet with appropriate sources of Vitamin D and Calcium
Naturally allow your cat to come down from the plant
A species appropriate raw diet conducive to liver disease and abnormalities.
Boosting the immune system with a species appropriate diet, herbs and other natural means
In general most with supportive care begin to improve in 72 hours and are completely normal in one to three weeks time.
There is a wide range of causes so prevention can be difficult however one can:
Providing a balanced species appropriate raw diet
Proper storage/eliminate potential toxins
Properly catify your home