Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week September 2020

Mitochondrial awareness week is celebrated every year in the third week of September and affected individuals and their loved ones around the world, work together to educate and spread awareness on mitochondrial disease.

Mitochondria are small power-houses in all our body cells (apart from red blood cells) that produces energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) by combusting calories from the food we eat and oxygen we breathe. 

Mitochondria are responsible for creating the energy needed to sustain life so when they malfunction it can lead to cells dying, organs failing and even death.

It is difficult to diagnose mitochondrial disease because everyone is affected differently- from seizures, strokes to muscle weakness and hearing loss. In children we usually see developmental delay, inability to walk, talk, see and even digestive difficulties. 

If three or more body systems are affected we should suspect a possible mitochondrial disease. These diseases were initially more recognised in children but more recent research also link this to Alzheimers, diabetes, autism, Parkinsons and aging itself, bringing it closer to home and re-enforcing the importance of further research in this area.

Currently there is still no cure and our treatments and therapies are still aimed at alleviating symptoms and slowing the progress of disease with nutritional intervention, supplements, lifestyle changes and avoiding environmental toxins and stress. It is also important to remember that a therapy and treatment protocol that works for one affected individual, might not work for someone else. 

It is heartwarming that while load-shedding of electricity has become a household term in our country, research into the mysteries of the mitochondria, to keep the “lights on” in our body cells are booming.

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