Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), this is often called Lou Gehrig’s disease (named from a famous baseball player in the 1920s). The motor neurons that regulate the voluntary muscles are affected by this neuromuscular disease. Loss of muscular control is a symptom of ALS.
ALS typically impacts both upper and lower motor neurons, which results in their progressive decline and prevents them from effectively communicating with muscles. Motor neurons are nerve cells that are responsible for transmitting signals from the brain and spinal cord to muscles throughout the body, enabling voluntary movement and control.
A system is used by healthcare professionals to categorize type of motor neuron diseases:
ALS frequently starts with speech slurring, difficulty swallowing, and muscle twitching in an arm or leg. Affected muscles eventually make it difficult to move, speak, eat, or breathe. The symptoms of ALS progressively worsen over time, making it challenging to move, speak, swallow, and eventually breathe. When their lungs are unable to supply enough oxygen to the blood, patients with ALS typically die of respiratory failure.
Currently, there is no known cure for ALS, but advances in therapy have led to improved management of the disease. With the right treatment regimen, the progression of ALS can be slowed down, and the quality of life for individuals with the disease can be enhanced. Despite ongoing research efforts, a definitive cure for ALS has not yet been discovered. Nonetheless, treatments such as medications, physical therapy, and respiratory support can help manage the symptoms and improve the patient’s overall well-being.
Individuals with ALS experience different symptoms. The damaged nerve cells determine which symptoms are present. Muscle weakness is typically the first symptom of ALS, and it progresses and gets worse with time. Some signs and symptoms could be:
The following symptoms can appear as ALS worsens:
ALS frequently begins in the hands, feet, arms, or legs. After that, it spreads to other body regions. As more nerve cells die, muscles become weaker. It eventually has an effect on breathing, speaking, chewing, and swallowing.
At the onset of ALS, pain is typically not a symptom, and even in later stages, it is not commonly experienced. ALS also does not usually affect normal bladder function or the senses, such as hearing, taste, and smell. While the disease can cause a range of debilitating symptoms, pain and sensory impairment are not typically among them. However, as the disease progresses, individuals with ALS may experience respiratory difficulties and other complications that can impact their quality of life.
The exact cause of ALS is unknown. Nerve cells that regulate voluntary muscular movements like walking and talking are affected by ALS. Motor neurons refer to these nerve cells. In both kinds of motor neuron, ALS causes a slow deterioration and eventually leads to death. Motor neurons stop transmitting signals to the muscles when they are damaged. The muscles are therefore unable to function properly.
Established risk factors for ALS include:
The following environmental factors have been linked to an increased risk of ALS.
+66 2066 8888