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What Is the Treatment for White Matter Disease?

By C. Daw
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Treatment of white matter disease starts after diagnosing the patient, which includes taking X-rays, MRI scans and CT scans. In order to treat the condition, the patient must control the vascular risk factors, especially variable hypertension. Apart from this, the patient is prescribed vitamin B6 supplements or Pyridoxine. Patients who also have migraines are given proper care in order to prevent the migraine so the condition can be treated. Diabetic patients are advised to strictly keep their condition under control, as well as people with high cholesterol.

White matter disease affects the white matter which is present between the neurons of the brain and spinal cord. It is composed of nerve fibers which help in communication, and is covered by a fatty sheath called myelin covers. This disorder is mainly categorized into two types: childhood white matter disease (CWMD) and multiple sclerosis and neuro-inflammatory disease (MS). Although the disease in adults is different from the one found in children, both the types affect the same part of the brain: the white matter. As such, the neurological effects are the same. In some cases, the disease is degenerative; it worsens and damages the brain over time. In other cases, it does not cause further damage to the brain.

In childhood white matter disease, there are two sub types: genetic disorders and acquired damage. Genetic CWMD is divided into metabolic and non metabolic. Acquired CWMD is due to hypoxic ischemic brain damage which is caused during birth, which mostly affects infants of premature birth. As such, children who are affected by childhood white matter disease show multiple categories of disorders with many causes. Most of the time, however, the disease has a genetic component. The main problem for most of the patients in this category is that a diagnosis is difficult to establish. Multiple sclerosis and neuro-inflammatory disease are diseases of the white matter that are related to the immune system and can be caused either by genetic factors or environmental factors. In MS, the adults affected are usually between the ages of 20 and 40.

In some cases when neurons or fiber tracts have died, general medications such as anti-Parkinson's and antidepressant drugs can be helpful. During the course of treatment, medications are altered and adjusted depending upon the patient’s condition. Apart from this, physical therapies are performed. Several actions can be taken to prevent future damage to the blood vessels once the disease has been diagnosed. Although there is no permanent cure, the disease can be treated by surgery or brain cell transplants.

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Discussion Comments

By anon360106 — On Dec 23, 2013

How can you cure deep white matter ischemia? Please tell me; it's a humble request.

By anon315652 — On Jan 24, 2013

I saw an online post regarding Lion's Mane (a mushroom used in Asian medical practice) and its potential in white matter and nerve regenerating properties. It may be helpful for any mental decline.

The therapeutic dose researched in AD patients was about 5000 mg (5 gm) per day for six months. It might be worth researching if there are no interactions with your current drug therapies. Just a thought.

I am actually trying this for my elderly father who has periventricular white matter disease. We are also working with traditional meds to control BP, high cholesterol, vitamin B therapies, exercise and other protocols as well.

By ZipLine — On Aug 04, 2012

@burcinc-- Hi, it sounds like your nephew's diagnosis happened similarly to my daughter's. It took us close to ten months of testing to get the diagnosis of vanishing white matter disease.

My daughter is basically on drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease. These drugs help create dopamine in her body which helps protect her brain from further degeneration.

Yes, the drugs do have side effects. My daughter gets really tired from them and very sleepy too. She just lacks energy in general. But the benefits of the drugs is worth the side effects.

By turquoise — On Aug 03, 2012

@burcinc-- I'm sorry to hear about your nephew. Praying for him and your family!

I don't know about the medications for CWMD. But my dad has multiple sclerosis. He seems to have developed it due to environmental factors. The main symptom he's going through right now is multiple sclerosis seizures so he takes medication for that. He also takes muscle relaxants from time to time. He has a lot of muscle stiffness, spasms and pain. The muscle relaxants help with that.

By burcinc — On Aug 03, 2012

My nephew has been diagnosed with childhood white matter brain disease. My sister had been taking him to doctors for the past six months trying to figure out what's wrong. The CWMD diagnosis was both a relief and a shock to us at the same time.

Does anyone have a son, a daughter or a relative dealing with CWMD?

If so, what kind of treatment is being given?

My nephew is about to start on some medications for his treatment. I don't know the exact names of the drugs yet. But I've heard that the medications used for CWMD is very strong and has a lot of side effects. Is that true?

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