Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
MGP Final Product
The Symptoms of ALS
The Symptoms of ALS
By Luke Conlon
ALS is a motor neuron disease, meaning it affects the motor neurons. These neurons allow the body to perform everyday actions, such as walking, eating, and breathing. ALS destroys the neurons intended to send signals to the muscles telling the muscles how and when to move. This causes the muscles to become weak, and also it has many other effects on the body.
The disease may start in the muscles of the arms or legs. The first symptoms associated with a limb onset are fasciculations (fine twitches), cramps, and muscle weakness. In other cases the disease begins in the mouth, known as a bulbar onset. The first symptoms that commonly arise are slurred speech, and trouble chewing or swallowing. If the upper motor neurons found in the brain are affected, the symptoms normally include spasticity, and hyperreflexia. If the lower motor neurons found in the spinal cord are affected, symptoms include muscle weakness and muscle cramps.After a few years the disease has many more symptoms affecting the whole body.
After around three years most muscles have been affected including the diaphragm. Simple everyday tasks become impossible, because the muscles no longer work. Assistance is required to breath, eat, walk, and in some cases communicate. ALS does not affect the senses of touch, sight, smell, hearing, and taste. The brain is also unaffected, but it has been shown to alter decision making and memory. The whole time the body is experiencing cramps and choking the patient can still feel the pain of the cramps. Many of the patients become anxious or depressed, because the can not perform the everyday tasks they used to.
The body experiences many symptoms, such as muscle weakness. All of the pain and suffering is a result of the destruction of the basis of the nervous system. The neurons that allow for the transmission of the electrochemical signals are destroyed.
“When symptoms begin in the arms or legs, it is referred to as “limb onset” ALS. Other individuals first notice speech problems, termed “bulbar onset” ALS.”(Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Fact Sheet) This is one of the facts stated in the essay and also included are the symptoms related to each type of onset. Later in the essay the topic of respiratory problems is addressed, and the NINDS states, “Most people with ALS die from respiratory failure, usually within 3 to 5 years from the onset of symptoms.” A major piece is how the body is still able to feel, and understand what is happening. It is hard to think the patients have to experience such intense pains, and there is nothing they can do. Stated by NINDS, “ALS does not affect a person’s ability to see, smell, taste, hear, or recognize touch,” and also “the disease usually does not impair a person’s mind or intelligence”.
It's like imploding.
The inside of you melts.
It is like cutting the wire,
From a battery to a bulb.
Your muscles stop working.
They all become,
And that is only the beginning,
Of the end.
It's only been a day,
But it seems like,ETERNITY.
"Ed Boyden: A light switch for neurons | Video on TED.com." TED: Ideas worth spreading. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2013.
"Brain and Nervous System ." KidsHealth - the Web's most visited site about children's health. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2013. <http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/body_basics/brain_nervous_system.html>
"Nervous System Information." University of Pennsylvania Health System | Penn Medicine. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2013. <http://www.pennmedicine.org/health_info/body_guide/reftext/html/nerv_sys_fin.html>.
"Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Fact Sheet: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)." National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2013. <http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/amyotrophiclateralsclerosis/detail_ALS.htm>.
Albom, Mitch. Tuesdays with Morrie: an old man, a young man, and life's greatest lesson. New York: Doubleday, 1997. Print.
Conlon, Jackie. Personal Interview. 18 May 2013