Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Also called: ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a nervous system disease that attacks nerve cells called neurons in your brain and spinal cord. These neurons transmit messages from your brain and spinal cord to your voluntary muscles - the ones you can control, like in your arms and legs. At first, this causes mild muscle problems. Some people notice

  • Trouble walking or running
  • Trouble writing
  • Speech problems

Eventually, you lose your strength and cannot move. When muscles in your chest fail, you cannot breathe. A breathing machine can help, but most people with ALS die from respiratory failure.

The disease usually strikes between age 40 and 60. More men than women get it. No one knows what causes ALS. It can run in families, but usually it strikes at random. There is no cure. Medicines can relieve symptoms and, sometimes, prolong survival.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Symptoms of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

The following features are indicative of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis:
  • muscle twitches
  • muscle weakness
  • muscle cramps
  • spasticity
  • slurred speech
  • nasal speech
  • difficulty chewing

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Common Causes of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

The following are the most common causes of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis:
  • genetic mutations in the superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) gene
  • exposure to toxic or infectious agents

Risk Factors for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis:
  • old age
  • males
  • Caucasians
  • non-Hispanics
  • military veterans
  • people with sporadic Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Prevention of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • proper nutrition intake

Occurrence of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Rare between 10K - 50K cases

Common Age Group

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged > 50 years

Common Gender

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis:
  • Electromyogram: To detect the electrical activity of the muscles
  • Nerve conduction study: To measure the nerves' ability to send impulses to muscles in different areas of the body
  • Magnetic resonance imaging: To view the detailed images of the brain and spinal cord
  • Lumbar puncture: To analyse the spinal fluid by removing a sample of the spinal fluid
  • Blood and urine tests: To eliminate the possibility of other diseases
  • Muscle biopsy: To diagnose muscle disease by removing a small portion of the muscle

Doctor for Diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis:
  • Physicians
  • Pharmacists
  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Speech therapists
  • Nutritionists
  • Social workers
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Clinical psychologists
  • Home care nurses
  • Hospice nurses

Complications of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis if untreated

Yes, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is left untreated:
  • breathing problems
  • respiratory failure
  • malnutrition
  • dehydration
  • pneumonia
  • dementia
  • speaking problems

Procedures for Treatment of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

The following procedures are used to treat Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis:
  • Mechanical ventilation: To aid breathing and improves the quality of life and prolongs survival
  • Tracheostomy: Inflates and deflates the lungs
  • Feeding tube: Ensure proper hydration and nutrition

Self-care for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis:
  • Avoid smoking
  • Avoid toxin exposure: Avoid exposure to lead or other substances in the workplace or at home and avoid exposure to certain metals or chemicals, traumatic injuries, viral infections, and intense exertion in the military service
  • Proper nutrition intake: To reduce the chances of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis:
  • Physical therapy: Improves the sense of well-being
  • Speech therapy: To make speech more clearly understood
  • Occupational therapy: Helps to remain independent despite hand and arm weakness

Patient Support for Treatment of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

The following actions may help Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis patients:
  • Join a support group: You may find comfort in a support group with others who have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Be hopeful: Improves quality of life for people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Think beyond the physical changes: Can lead rich, rewarding lives despite physical limitations
  • Make decisions now about your future medical care: Allows you to be in control of decisions about your life and your care

Time for Treatment of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • More than 1 year

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

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