ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after the famous baseball player who got the illness in 1939. It may also be referred to as Motor Neuron Disease.
ALS is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects the nerve cells that make muscles work in both the upper and lower parts of the body. This disease makes the nerve cells stop working and die. The nerves lose the ability to trigger specific muscles, which causes the muscles to become weak and leads to paralysis.
ALS is slightly more common in men than women.
ALS is age related; most people find out they have it when they are between 55 and 75 years of age, and live from 2 to 5 years after symptoms develop.
What causes ALS?
ALS is inherited in 5 to 10 percent of cases.
For most cases, no one knows the cause. Scientists have been studying many factors such as gene mutation, chemical imbalance and disorganized immune response. Others have looked at diet or injury.
There is one FDA approved drug that modestly slows the progression of the disease, however, there is still no cure or treatment today to halt or reverse ALS.
Early signs and symptoms
- Difficulty walking, tripping or difficulty doing normal activities
- Weakness in the legs, feet or ankles
- Hand weakness or clumsiness
- Slurring of speech or trouble in swallowing
- Muscle cramps and twitching in arms, shoulder and tongue
- Difficulty in holding head up or keeping a good posture
The disease frequently begins in the hands, feet or limbs, and then spreads to other parts of the body. As the disease advances, muscles become progressively weaker and eventually affects chewing, swallowing, speaking and breathing.
ALS however does not affect bowel or bladder control, the senses and thinking ability.