Savanna ThomasMrs. Hall1st PeriodAmyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a debilitating disease that ruthlessly destroys nerve cells and results in disability.
The disease causes nerve cells to gradually atrophy and die. Early symptoms for ALS include slurred speech, twitching of muscles, and weakness in a limb is. It eventually disturbs the muscles needed to breath, speak, eat, and move. The disease advances and currently there is no cure for ALS. Signs and symptoms include: difficulty keeping the head up or keeping good posture; tripping or falling, weakness in the leg, feet, or ankles; muscle cramps and twitching in the arms, shoulders, and tongue; difficulty walking or doing ADLs; hand weakness or clumsiness; slurred speech or trouble swallowing.
ALS will eventually spread to other parts of the body, but will most often start in the feet, hands, or limbs. Muscles will progressively weaken as the disease advances. ALS doesn’t typically affect thinking ability, bowel or bladder control, or senses.
In some ALS cases the disease is inherited, while the others remain with no known cause. Researchers are also looking into gene mutation, chemical imbalances, disorganized immune responses, and protein mishandling. Research is also being done into cellular defects, stem cells, family versus sporadic ALS, biomarkers, and new treatment options.Various risk factors include heredity, age, sex, and genetics. Environmental factors that may trigger or affect risk of ALS include smoking, environmental toxin exposure, and military service. Complications that people with ALS may experience include breathing problems, speaking problems, eating problems, and dementia.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis can be hard to diagnose early on because it mimics many other neurological diseases. Tests to rule out other conditions may include electromyogram (EMG), nerve conduction study, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), blood and urine tests, spinal tap, or muscle biopsy. Treatment for ALS can slow the progression of symptoms, prevent complications, and make a person more comfortable. Two medications are currently approved for the treatment of ALS, Riluzole (Rilutek) and Edaravone (Radicava).
A doctor may also prescribe medications to provide relief from symptoms including muscle cramps and spasms, spasticity, constipation, fatigue, excessive salivation, excessive phlegm, pain, depression, sleep problems, and uncontrolled outbursts of laughing or crying. Some therapies that people with ALS can do include breathing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, nutritional support, psychological and social support.