Disease at a Glance

Summary
Alström syndrome is characterized by cone-rod dystrophy, obesity, progressive bilateral sensorineural hearing impairment, acute infantile-onset cardiomyopathy and/or adolescent- or adult-onset restrictive cardiomyopathy, insulin resistance / type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and chronic progressive kidney disease. Cone-rod dystrophy presents as progressive visual impairment, photophobia, and nystagmus usually starting between birth and age 15 months. Many individuals lose all perception of light by the end of the second decade, but a minority retain the ability to read large print into the third decade. Children usually have normal birth weight but develop truncal obesity during their first year. Sensorineural hearing loss presents in the first decade in as many as 70% of individuals and may progress to the severe or moderately severe range (40-70 db) by the end of the first to second decade. Insulin resistance is typically accompanied by the skin changes of acanthosis nigricans, and proceeds to T2DM in the majority by the third decade. Nearly all demonstrate hypertriglyceridemia. Other findings can include endocrine abnormalities (hypothyroidism, hypogonadotropic hypogonadism in males, and hyperandrogenism in females), urologic dysfunction / detrusor instability, progressive decrease in renal function, and hepatic disease (ranging from elevated transaminases to steatohepatitis/NAFLD). Approximately 20% of affected individuals have delay in early developmental milestones, most commonly in gross and fine motor skills. About 30% have a learning disability. Cognitive impairment (IQ <70) is very rare. Wide clinical variability is observed among affected individuals, even within the same family.
Estimated Number of People with this Disease

This section is currently in development.

What Information Does GARD Have For This Disease?

Many rare diseases have limited information. Currently GARD is able to provide the following information for this disease:

*Data may be currently unavailable to GARD at this time.
Categories
When do symptoms of this disease begin?
This section is currently in development. 

Symptoms

This section is currently in development. We recommend speaking with a doctor to learn more about this disease. 

Causes

This section is currently in development. 

Next Steps

Talking with the Medical Team

Good communication between the patient, family, and medical team can lead to an accurate diagnosis. In addition, health care decisions can be made together which improves the patient’s well-being and quality of life.

Describing Symptoms

Describe details about the symptoms. Because there may be many different causes for a single symptom, it is best not to make a conclusion about the diagnosis. The detailed descriptions help the medical provider determine the correct diagnosis.

To help describe a symptom:

  • Use a smartphone or a notebook to record each symptom before the appointment
  • Describe each symptom by answering the following questions:
    • When did the symptom start?
    • How often does it happen?
    • Does anything make it better or worse?
  • Tell the medical team whether any symptoms affect daily activities

Preparing for the First Visit

Working with a medical team to find a diagnosis can be a long process that will require more than one appointment. Make better health decisions by being prepared for the first visit with each member of the medical team.

    Make informed decisions about health care: 
    • Prepare a list of questions and concerns before the appointment
    • List the most important questions first, not all questions may be answered in the first visit
    • Ask questions about symptoms, possible diagnoses, tests, and treatment options
    For future appointments:
    • Discuss what was not addressed at the last visit
    • Discuss changes in the quality of life for the patient, family, and caregivers
    • Discuss health goals and other issues in the patient’s and family’s life that may affect the health care decisions
    Take notes during the appointments to help remember what was discussed.

    Last Updated: Nov. 8, 2021