7 Ways Duchenne and Becker Muscular Dystrophy Affects Patients
Duchenne and Becker are two of the most common types of muscular dystrophy (MD). Both types of the disease mainly affect boys, with Duchenne MD (DMD) usually being diagnosed between the ages of three and five, and Becker MD (BMD) between the ages of 11 and 25. Although they tend to differ in severity, the effects of the diseases are similar in many ways. We’ve put together a list of the ways the disease affects patients based on information from the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation Australia.
Pain and Sensation
Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy patients don’t tend to suffer from pain from their condition or loss of sensations, but they may experience cramps and general aching which can be treated with over-the-counter medications.
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Because the heart is a muscle, it is also affected by Duchenne and Becker MD. Boys with both types of MD will undergo regular cardiac evaluations and in some cases may need a heart transplant if they are otherwise in good health. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and beta-blockers can be used to slow down the progression of heart disease if caught early enough. Boys with Duchenne MD are more likely to succumb to severe heart disease in their late teens or early twenties.
After the age of 10, boys with Duchenne MD are likely to start suffering from weakness of the diaphragm and other muscles needed to help with breathing. Many will require assistance to breathe. They will also be more susceptible to lung infections such as pneumonia.
It’s estimated that approximately a third of boys with Duchenne MD have learning difficulties but very few have severe problems in this area. Learning difficulties usually present in three ways: verbal learning and memory, focusing attention and emotional interaction.
Boys with Duchenne MD and Becker MD may suffer from constipation so they’ll need a diet which is high in fiber and liquids. Because many are unable to physically exercise they are unable to burn off calories so a low-calorie diet is usually also recommended.
Even if Duchenne or Becker MD patients are in wheelchairs, exercise is still important to improve muscle tone, circulation and to keep the heart as healthy as possible. Physiotherapy and water therapy are recommended. Occupational therapy can help with everyday tasks to improve independence.
Children and young adults with Duchenne MD or Becker MD have the same emotional needs as anyone else. It’s important to treat them as individual people rather than someone with a disability. They need to undergo the same treatment as other members of the family and receive the same love, encouragement, honesty, respect and discipline as their brothers and sisters.
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