Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Did you know that every 90 mins someone is diagnosed with ALS? (According to ALS Association reports). ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, after the famed baseball player who was diagnosed with it.
What is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. ALS is characterized by the degeneration of motor neurons (the cells that control muscle movement). This degeneration leads to muscle weakness, paralysis, and eventually death.
Causes & Risk Factors
- Genetics: The cause of ALS is not known, although there is some evidence that it may be genetic. Around 5 to 10% of ALS cases have been found to be hereditary.
- Age: ALS usually affects people between the ages of 40 and 70.
- Gender: ALS is more frequently found in men than in women.
- Environmental factors: The only known environmental risk factor for ALS is smoking. Women appear to be most at risk, particularly after menopause.
- Toxin exposure (from the environment): Some evidence suggests that lead or other substance exposure in the workplace or at home may be linked to ALS.
- Service in the military: According to research, people who have served in the military are more likely to develop ALS. Exposure to certain heavy metals or chemicals, traumatic injuries, viral infections, and intense exertion may all be factors.
The signs and symptoms of ALS vary greatly depending on which motor neurons are affected. It usually starts with muscle weakness that spreads and worsens over time. ALS frequently begins in the hands, feet, or limbs and spreads to other parts of the body. Your muscles become weaker as the nerve cells are destroyed and the disease progresses. Chewing, swallowing, speaking, and breathing are all affected in the advanced stages of the disease.
Other signs and symptoms could be:
- Difficulty walking, lack of coordination, or falling and tripping
- Difficulty performing routine daily activities
- Weakness and lack of control of legs, feet, or ankles
- Hand clumsiness or weakness in your fingers and hands
- Slurred speech or swallowing difficulties
- Cramping muscles and twitching in your arms, shoulders, and tongue
- Crying, laughing, or yawning that’s inappropriate
- Changes in cognition and behavior
- ALS also has been commonly associated with Dementia (frontotemporal dementia).
As the disease progresses, patients may lose the ability to speak, eat, and breathe.
ALS is diagnosed through a combination of medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests.
There is no effective treatment for ALS, and the disease is fatal. The only hope for people with ALS is research into new treatments that may improve their quality of life and extend their life expectancy.
There is no cure for ALS, but treatment can help improve symptoms and prolong life. Treatment options include occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and medications.
Treatment is tailored to the individual and may change over time. It may include:
- Occupational therapy (to help with daily routine activities)
- Physical therapy (to improve/maintain muscle strength, mobility, and function)
- Speech therapy (to help with communication and swallowing)
- Medications to ease symptoms and improve quality of life
- Some people with ALS may also require a feeding tube to receive food and fluids.
Want to know more about neurological diseases?
At Doral Health and Wellness, we have doctors that can help you manage your condition. For more information, you can visit us at 1797 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, 11212, or call us at 1-347-384-5690. You can also visit our website at https://doralhw.org or contact us at email@example.com if you have any queries.