Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis(ALS) Treatment
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS is a type of motor neuron disease that causes nerve cells to gradually break down and die. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. During the progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS, they eventually die. When the motor neurons die, the brain is no longer capable of initiating and controlling muscle movement, therefore it is lost. Voluntary movements and muscle control are provided by motor neurons which are affected when you have ALS. Voluntary movements consist of swallowing a drink to kicking your legs.
90-95% of all cases of ALS are known as sporadic. Meaning it may affect anyone, anywhere. While the other 5-10% of all cases is known as Familial ALS, meaning the disease has been inherited. Families who have a history of ALS have a 50% chance that each offspring wiill inherit the gene mutation and be diagnosed later in life with the disease.
Early signs of ALS
- Difficulty walking or tripping
- Difficulty preforming daily activites
- Slurring of speech
- Trouble swallowing
- Weakness in your legs, feet or ankles
- Hand weakness or clumsiness
- Muscle cramps of twitching in your shoulders, arms and tongue
- Difficulty with posture or holding your head up
The development and symptoms of ALS can vary in each person. It is most common for symptoms to develop in your hands, feet or limbs first. As the disease progresses, your muscles become weaker. Muscle weakness eventually affects chewing, swallowing, speaking and breathing. ALS does not typically affect your bowel and bladder control, your senses or your thinking ability.
Facts to know
- Every day, an average of 15 people are newly diagnosed with ALS — more than 5,600 people per year. As many as 30,000 Americans may currently be affected by ALS. Annually, ALS is responsible for two deaths per 100,000 people.
- ALS occurs throughout the world with no racial, ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries and can affect anyone.
- ALS is not contagious but can be inherited.
- ALS is most common between the ages of 40-60 but can occur as early as age 20.
- Most people with ALS die of respiratory failure within 3 to 5 years of diagnosis, though about 10 percent of patients live for 10 or more years.
- ALS is often called Lou Gehrig’s disease after Lou Gehrig, a hall-of-fame baseball player for the New York Yankees who was diagnosed with ALS in 1939.
For answers to your questions or to make an appointment, call us toll-free at (800) 923-7878 to speak with a Patient Care Representative.