MELAS Syndrome - Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of MELAS?

As a result of the disturbed function of their cells' mitochondria, patients with MELAS develop brain dysfunction (encephalopathy) with seizures and headaches, as well as muscle disease with a build-up of lactic acid in the blood (a condition called lactic acidosis), temporary local paralysis (stroke-like episodes), and abnormal thinking (dementia).

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See what others are saying

Comment from: KarGow, 19-24 (Caregiver) Published: January 14

My nephew was diagnosed with MELAS at 10 years old and died aged 19 years old. The final 3 years of his life he was blind, deaf, had a feeding line in and had dementia. My sister (his mother) died a horrific death due to MELAS last year. I just recently lost my eldest cousin aged 47 years old, he was deaf, blind and demented. I have been diagnosed with it and brain scan shows past stroke like changes. I'm deaf, eyesight is poor, diabetic (all family members were diabetic) and I am in constant pain with all over muscular pain. I suffer dizzy spells, can't walk in a straight line and my memory is getting bad. I'm 46 years old. Thankfully, I never had any children. My heart goes out to anyone else out there either living with this illness or caring for a loved one.

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Comment from: Jessie, 45-54 Female (Caregiver) Published: August 18

My mom was diagnosed with MELAS after an intestinal blockage landed her in the ICU. During this time we were lucky enough to be placed in the path of a doctor who put all of my mom's various medical conditions together and did a muscle biopsy. This was about 7 years before she passed away from her second known stroke. I believe she had unknown stroke like episodes before and after diagnosis. She suffered from hearing loss, diabetes, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and blocked intestines resulting in a colostomy bag. She had diminished cognitive function due to a stroke at the age of 42. She was very petite and also very muscularly weak. I believe that my grandmother and my uncle suffer from MELAS as well but no formal diagnosis has been made. I struggle with the decision to get tested. I'm 25 now and although most patients present with symptoms before the age of 20 my mom didn't get sick until later. If I get tested then I will think every little thing is because of the MELAS, but on the other hand even though I know I have the gene I might not be affected.

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