ALS

Lou Gehrig's disease

What happens to the body?

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig's, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that causes muscle weakness and loss. Ultimately, this disease leads to respiratory failure. ALS causes lots of strains on the body overtime. Meaning that neurons in the brain slowly die off.

Symptoms?

Hand eye coordination is one of the first symptoms patients usually notice. Holding something as simple as a pen will become a difficult task to preform. As time progresses, feeding oneself, or holding a cup will be a struggle. Less control of the muscles leads to less muscle use which inevitably leads to serious muscle loss and control. Speech often is a large factor in ALS patients. Their speech becomes slurred along with a change in vocal pitch. Sufferers become unable to maneuver their tongue and lips. Difficulty breathing is a more detrimental symptom. The lungs will eventually collapse. Walking, Swallowing, and dropped head syndrome are the more serious symptoms of ALS.

Cause?

ALS generally affects the nerve cells in the brain and the spinal chord. The cause of this horrid disease is yet to be known. ALS is a mutation. One mutation copy is needed to cause ALS.

Is the disorder inherited?

Very rarely, ALS is sex-linked. ALS is linked to the chromosome 9. It is a dominant trait.

Medication? Gene therapy?

Temporarily, symptoms can be slowed down with multiple medications, however, it only prolongs the inevitable, death. Gene therapy is a possibility for some candidates but there is no cure for ALS. Extensive testing is done in the process of diagnoses. Genetic counseling is a good way to evaluate risks and discuss the impact.

Are you likely to get diagnosed with ALS?

White men is their 60's are most likely to be diagnosed. it has nothing to do with location as far as research shows. Each day, 15 people are diagnosed with ALS. Each year, over 5,600 people are diagnosed. It is very common in neuromuscular diseases.

What I've learned?

I have a lot of respect for the people who suffer from ALS. It is hard to fathom having the mental capability to perform tasks but not having the physical ability. It affects so many people, not just the person diagnosed with the disease. It steals all your dignity and pride. Thankfully, the awareness of ALS is growing each day. Researches will work to find a cure and with more support, they will hopefully find one.
Diagnosis and Treatment of ALS-Mayo Clinic
Living With ALS