The rate of progression varies from person to person. Generally, within 10 to 20 years after the first symptoms appear, people with Friedreich ataxia need to consistently use a wheelchair. Life expectancy may be affected, and many people with Friedreich ataxia die in adulthood from the associated heart disease. However, some people with less severe symptoms of Friedreich ataxia live much longer, sometimes into their sixties or seventies.
This table lists symptoms that people with this disease may have. For most diseases, symptoms will vary from person to person. People with the same disease may not have all the symptoms listed. This information comes from a database called the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) . The HPO collects information on symptoms that have been described in medical resources. The HPO is updated regularly. Use the HPO ID to access more in-depth information about a symptom.
|Medical Terms||Other Names||
|100% of people have these symptoms|
|80%-99% of people have these symptoms|
Difficulty articulating speech
Abnormality of balance
Abnormality of equilibrium
Imbalanced walk[ more ]
|Hand muscle atrophy||
Hand muscle degeneration
|30%-79% of people have these symptoms|
|Areflexia of lower limbs||0002522|
|Cervical spinal cord atrophy||0010873|
|Impaired visually enhanced vestibulo-ocular reflex||0030183|
|Poor fine motor coordination||0007010|
|Sensory axonal neuropathy||0003390|
|Urinary bladder sphincter dysfunction||0002839|
|5%-29% of people have these symptoms|
|Decreased motor nerve conduction velocity||0003431|
Swallowing difficulty[ more ]
Hearing defect[ more ]
|Inability to walk||0002540|
|Reduced visual acuity||0007663|
Loss of eyesight
Poor vision[ more ]
|Percent of people who have these symptoms is not available through HPO|
|Abnormality of visual evoked potentials||0000649|
|Congestive heart failure||
Heart failure[ more ]
|Decreased amplitude of sensory action potentials||0007078|
|Decreased pyruvate carboxylase activity||0003209|
|Decreased sensory nerve conduction velocity||0003448|
|Impaired vibratory sensation||
Decreased vibration sense
Decreased vibratory sense
Diminished vibratory sense
Impaired vibratory sense[ more ]
|Visual field defect||
Partial loss of field of vision
Making a diagnosis for a genetic or rare disease can often be challenging. Healthcare professionals typically look at a person’s medical history, symptoms, physical exam, and laboratory test results in order to make a diagnosis. The following resources provide information relating to diagnosis and testing for this condition. If you have questions about getting a diagnosis, you should contact a healthcare professional.
The resources below provide information about treatment options for this condition. If you have questions about which treatment is right for you, talk to your healthcare professional.
Research helps us better understand diseases and can lead to advances in diagnosis and treatment. This section provides resources to help you learn about medical research and ways to get involved.
Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.
Living with a genetic or rare disease can impact the daily lives of patients and families. These resources can help families navigate various aspects of living with a rare disease.
These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.
New NCATS Rare Diseases Research Video
December 27, 2017
Rare Disease Day at NIH on March 1, 2018
December 19, 2017
Gene Editing: Gold Nanoparticle Delivery Shows Promise
October 12, 2017
Annual "Woodstock" May Speed Cure
July 28, 2016
Questions sent to GARD may be posted here if the information could be helpful to others. We remove all identifying information when posting a question to protect your privacy. If you do not want your question posted, please let us know. Submit a new question
My 32-year-old brother has Friedreich ataxia and is completely dependent and wheelchair bound. I have lived a normal, healthy life but have read recently that late onset of this condition can occur in individuals from 26 years and older. I am currently 33-years-old. What are my chances of developing Friedreich ataxia later on in life? Should I get tested for it? See answer
My daughter has Friedreich ataxia. Both of her parents are black, and her paternal great grandmother is of Irish descent. How did my daughter inherit this condition, and how can I find other families that are in a similar situation? See answer
My sister has Friedreich's ataxia. I am looking for ways to make her life easier. Can you tell me where I can find out about wheelchairs, exercises, and bathroom accomodations? I would also like to connect with people who can help me. See answer