Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Lou Gehrig's Disease
ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. This disease affects the motor neurons in the brain stem and the spinal cord. Eventually, this disease completely suspends any movement in the voluntary muscles. Sadly, this disease is almost always fatal as there is no cure.
Facts About ALS
Doctors don’t know what causes ALS yet. About 10% of patients receive it from a family member. Organizations devoted to ALS research are still trying to find out how you can get it. ALS is very rare. In the United States and most of the world, only about 1 or 2 people out of 100,000 are diagnosed with ALS each year. Men get ALS more often than women do. Although ALS can occur at any age, mostly middle-aged and older adults get it. This disease can be found anywhere. Scientists have not yet found anything in their research that links ALS to specific countries or facilities. Tests done to diagnose ALS include EMG tests, MRI tests, and nerve conduction studies. EMG tests, or Electromyogram tests, help measure how well nerves and muscles work. Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI tests, are performed to show problems or injury in the brain. Nerve conduction studies are done just to test nerve function. Symptoms for ALS are as follows: An early symptom is weakness in either the face, the tongue, a hand, or a leg. Eventually, this weakness spreads to both arms and both legs. The muscles in the body get weaker and smaller, as they cannot move. Problems with speaking, swallowing, eating, walking, and breathing, memory, thinking, and changes in personality occur. Respiratory problems and swallowing, as well as not getting enough food tend to be the most serious symptoms of ALS. The muscles in the throat and chest weaken. Swallowing, coughing, and breathing problems get worse. The most common causes of death with ALS are Pneumonia, Pulmonary Embolism, lung failure, and heart failure.
Ways to Maintain Your Health
Physical and occupational therapy can help you stay strong. Speech therapy can help you with coughing, swallowing, and talking. There are some medicines that can help with your muscle pains or stiffness and other symptoms. Talk with your family about your treatment options and decide what you think is best for you. If you are unable to speak, writing your options down will ensure you receive the treatment you want. Learn as much as you can about ALS so you can be ready to anticipate the harsh symptoms of ALS. Learning about it can even enhance your knowledge of what you will be dealing with.
A2 Health 3/13/15
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