What is ALS: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease

It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. It leads to the death of motor neurons, which are responsible for controlling voluntary muscle movement. As the disease progresses, people lose the ability to move their muscles, including the muscles used for breathing.

The exact cause of it is unknown, but it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some genes have been linked to an increased risk of it, but these genes only account for a small percentage of cases. Environmental factors that may increase the risk include exposure to heavy metals, pesticides, and certain chemicals.

The symptoms of ALS can vary from person to person, but the most common early symptoms are:

  • Muscle weakness in the arms or legs
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Muscle twitching
  • Fatigue

As the disease progresses, people with this disease may experience:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing
  • Muscle cramps and spasms
  • Weight loss
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

There is no cure for ALS, but there are treatments that can help to manage the symptoms. These treatments include:

  • Riluzole (Rilutek): This medication can slow the progression of this disease by a few months.
  • Physical therapy: This can help to maintain muscle strength and range of motion.
  • Speech therapy: This can help to improve communication skills.
  • Swallowing therapy: This can help to prevent aspiration pneumonia.
  • Palliative care: This can help to manage pain and other symptoms, and provide emotional support for the person with this disease and their loved ones.

Researchers are working on new treatments for ALS, but there is no guarantee that a cure will be found anytime soon. In the meantime, it is important to support people and their loved ones through this difficult disease.