What causes damage to the white matter of the brain?

By: Kelly PainterUpdated: April 02, 2021


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    September 26, 2022
There are several forms of white matter disease. Each involves problems related to myelin, a fat that covers nerve fibers in the brain. The most common forms of white matter disease relate to aging. It may result from small silent strokes, often with the presence of cardiovascular disease.

Keeping this in consideration, can white matter damage be reversed?

Even when they are damaged, substantial recovery is still expected if axons are not destroyed. Early treatment can retard, arrest, or reverse the disease process in many white matter disorders before the loss of axons.

Beside above, how serious is white matter disease?

More evidence has been accumulated that damage to cognitive areas is widespread from white matter disease. White matter disease is responsible for about a fifth of all strokes worldwide, more than doubles the future risk of stroke, and is a contributing factor in up to 45% of dementias.

What are the symptoms of white matter disease?

Symptoms of white matter disease may include:
  • issues with balance.
  • walking slow.
  • more frequent falls.
  • unable to do more than one thing at a time, like talking while walking.
  • depression.
  • unusual mood changes.

What is the life expectancy of someone with white matter disease?

The life expectancy after a diagnosis of white matter disease depends on the speed it progresses and the severity of any other conditions it may cause, like stroke and dementia. White matter disease is believed to be a factor in both strokes and dementia. However, more research must be done for further confirmation.


Can white matter lesions in the brain be nothing?

White matter lesions observed on brain MRI are usually characteristic and occur in specific areas including the corpus callosum and pons. “However, in many cases, the white matter lesions as isolated observations are nonspecific” and could be due to MS or another cause, explained Drs Lange and Melisaratos.

Can white matter in the brain be repaired?

White matter injuries occur when white matter tracts (bundles of myelinated axons) are damaged. As long as the neuron cell bodies remain healthy, axons can regrow and slowly repair themselves. Functional recovery may also occur if the information can be transmitted through an alternative route.

Does everyone have white matter in the brain?

Change in the Brain's White Matter. “Gray matter” is only one of two types of brain tissue; the other “white matter” is rarely mentioned. Yet white matter makes up half the human brain and has not been thought to be important in cognition or learning outside the context of pathology.

Can white matter disease be caused by trauma?

It has been suggested that these abnormalities may be caused by traumatic axonal injury that persists in a chronic stage. Predilection sites of traumatic axonal injury include subcortical white matter, corpus callosum, fornix, internal capsules, and infratentorial white matter.

Is white matter disease inherited?

White matter disease in midlife is heritable, related to hypertension, and shares some genetic influence with systolic blood pressure.

Does white matter disease cause headaches?

As hypertension is associated with more white matter lesions (Sprint group, 2019), and headache is associated with hypertension as well, perhaps these white matter lesions are simply a reflection of uncontrolled blood pressure spikes in persons with severe head pain.

Can migraines cause white matter disease?

People who experience migraine headaches have a greater risk of developing brain lesions and other problems, according to a new study appearing in the journal Neurology. The researchers found that people with migraines ran a higher risk of brain lesions, abnormalities in brain white matter, and altered brain volume.

Is white matter disease the same as MS?

“In general, white matter disease causes acute MS symptoms, like numbness and weakness," Stone says. "Gray matter disease causes progressive symptoms, like fatigue and memory loss. These higher brain functions are called cognitive functions. Most MS disability actually comes from cognitive dysfunction."

Can stress cause white matter?

Stress can damage the brain. Neuroscientists at a UC Berkeley lab have uncovered evidence that a well-known stress hormone trips a switch in stem cells in the brain, causing them to produce a white matter cell that ultimately can change the way circuits are connected in the brain.

Does alcohol affect white matter?

Chronic misuse of alcohol results in measurable damage to the brain. Chronic drinking may be particularly damaging to the integrity of frontal white matter tracts, which can interfere with cognitive and inhibitory control that, in turn, is important to achieve and maintain abstinence.

How do you get rid of white matter disease?

Keep your blood pressure and blood sugar in check. That can lead to white matter changes. To keep your heart healthy, follow a low-fat, low-salt diet, and get about 2 and a half hours of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Manage diabetes if you have it and keep your cholesterol in check.

How do you treat white matter disease?

White matter disease doesn't have a cure, but there are treatments that can help manage your symptoms. The primary treatment is physical therapy. Physical therapy can help with any balance and walking difficulties you may develop.