May also be called: Mitochondrial Disease; Mitochondrial Dysfunction
Mitochondrial (my-tuh-KON-dree-ul) disorders affect the function of mitochondria,
tiny structures within the body's cells that turn sugar and oxygen into the energy
the cells need to do their jobs.
More to Know
Nearly every cell in the body has mitochondria. When someone has a mitochondrial
disorder, it means that something — usually a genetic
defect — is preventing the mitochondria from working correctly. The mitochondria
make less energy and the cells don't work the way they should.
There are many different kinds of mitochondrial disorder, which can affect different
parts of the body. Some types affect a single organ, such as the eyes, ears, brain,
kidney, or heart. Others affect many organs at the same time.
Depending on the body parts affected, people with a mitochondrial disorder may
experience it differently. It all depends on which organs are affected and how severe
the disorder is. Some people with a mitochondrial disorder might not even know that
they have one, and some may have only very mild symptoms. Others may have problems
with physical and mental development; vision or hearing loss; dementia or loss of
mental ability; or diseases of the heart, liver, brain, and kidneys.
Signs of a mitochondrial disorder often appear for the first time when a child
is still young, but they can affect people of any age. There are no specific treatments
for mitochondrial disorders at this time, but in some cases medicine can help control
Keep in Mind
There is no cure for a mitochondrial disorder, but medicine and other therapies
can help many people treat their symptoms.
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