What is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis? Its Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Home » Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Garry Stewart
Written By Ken Maus

November 19, 2022

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

ALS is an acronym for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis refers to a progressive neurodegenerative illness, which affects the brain and spinal cord’s nerve cells.

This disease causes muscle control loss that generally begins with weakness in a limb, slurred speech, or muscle twitching.

Symptoms of ALS

The symptoms of the illness vary from person to person based on which neurons are affected. However, the common symptoms of the health condition include:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Performing daily activities
  • Falling and tripping
  • Hand weakness
  • Weakness in feet, legs, or ankles
  • Inappropriate laughing, yawning or crying
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Slurred speech
  • Behavioral and cognitive changes
  • Muscle cramps
  • Twitching in shoulders, arms, and tongue
  • Clumsiness

Causes of ALS

The health condition generally affects the nerve cells which control voluntary muscle movements like talking and walking.

The illness leads to motor neurons progressively deteriorating and later dying.

These motor neurons extend from the brain to spinal cords to the muscles throughout the body. And when these neurons are damaged, they stopover sending messages to muscles, and therefore muscles stop functioning.

The health condition is generally inherited in 5 to 10 percent of people. However, the actual cause of it is still unknown.

Risk factors involved!

People with the following possibilities may get the risk of disease.

  • Heredity
  • Sex
  • Genetics
  • Age
  • Environmental toxin exposure
  • Smoking

Complications involved

With the disease progression it may cause the following complications:

  • Breathing issues
  • Speaking issues
  • Eating issues
  • Dementia

Diagnosis of ALS

Generally, ALS is complicated to diagnose at an early stage as it may mimic several other neurological diseases.

However, the recommended tests to rule out other health conditions may include:

  • Nerve Conduction Study
  • EMG
  • MRI
  • Spinal Tap
  • Muscle Biopsy
  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests

Treatment of ALS

The treatments cannot reverse the damage caused due to the health condition. However, it may slow down the symptom progressions and prevent complications from making the patient independent and comfortable.

The doctor may recommend the following.

  • Medications like Edaravone or Riluzole to deal with the health condition
  • Therapies like physical therapy, breathing care, speech therapy, occupational therapy, psychological support, and nutritional support.

Coping and support for the health condition

The below-mentioned tips may help you cope with the health condition:

  • Think beyond physical changes
  • Take time to grieve
  • Be hopeful
  • Join a support group
  • Keep a symptoms diary

Bottom Line!

The health condition requires special care and support. So, if a person experiences any of the symptoms, contacting a medical doctor is the best way to deal with the health condition.

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