Ataxia: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 1/23/2020

Ataxia refers to problems with coordination and unsteadiness due to the brain's inability to regulate posture and regulate the strength and direction of limb movements.

Signs and symptoms of ataxia include

  • poor coordination,
  • unsteady walk or gait,
  • stumbling,
  • difficulty with fine motor tasks,
  • changes in speech,
  • nystagmus (involuntary eye movements from side to side),
  • difficulty swallowing, or
  • tremors.

Cause of ataxia

Ataxia is a symptom rather than a disease in itself and has numerous causes. Disease in the cerebellum of the brain, which lies beneath the back part of the cerebrum, usually causes ataxia. Causes can include alcohol or drug abuse, brain tumors, head trauma, infections, stroke, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis. There are also certain inherited genetic conditions that can cause ataxia.

Other ataxia symptoms and signs

  • Changes in Speech
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Difficulty With Fine Motor Tasks
  • Nystagmus (Involuntary Eye Movements From Side to Side)
  • Poor Coordination
  • Stumbling
  • Tremors
  • Unsteady Walk or Gait


The abbreviated term ADHD denotes the condition commonly known as: See Answer

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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.