How are mitochondrial diseases treated?

There are no cures for mitochondrial diseases, but treatment can help reduce symptoms or slow the decline in health.

Treatment varies from patient to patient and depends on the specific mitochondrial disease diagnosed and its severity. However, there is no way to predict a patient’s response to treatment or predict how the disease will affect that person in the long run. No two people will respond to the same treatment in the same way, even if they have the same disease.

Treatments for mitochondrial disease may include:

  • Vitamins and supplements, including Coenzyme Q10; B complex vitamins, especially thiamine (B1) and riboflavin (B2); Alpha lipoic acid; L-carnitine (Carnitor); Creatine; and L-Arginine.
  • Exercises, including both endurance exercises and resistance/strength training. These are done to increase muscle size and strength. Endurance exercises include walking, running, swimming, dancing, cycling and others. Resistance/strength training include exercises such as sit-ups, arm curls, knee extensions, weight lifting and others.
  • Conserving energy. Don’t try to do too much in a short period of time. Pace yourself.
  • Other treatments. These may include speech therapy, physical therapy, respiratory therapy, and occupational therapy.

Avoid situations that can make your medical condition worse. These include: exposure to cold and/or heat; starvation; lack of sleep; stressful situations; and use of alcohol, cigarettes and monosodium glutamate (MSG, a flavor enhancer commonly added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups, and processed meats).

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