Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
New Hope Unlimited has found that many times symptoms may be improved and possibly reversed with our alternative Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis treatments.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurological disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. It causes weakness and poor physical functions and disrupts a person’s ability to control muscles and make normal movements such as speaking, eating and breathing. It’s important to note that ALS only attacks motor neurons and generally leaves the five main senses—sight, touch, hearing, taste, and smell—unaffected.
About 6,000 people are diagnosed with ALS each year. It is common among people between the ages of 40 and 70, but the average age of detection is 55.
Jean-Martin Charcot, a French neurologist, first discovered ALS in 1869. However, the condition only gained public attention due to Lou Gehrig, a baseball athlete who was diagnosed with ALS. Hence, ALS is sometimes referred to as Lou Gehrig disease. In the United States, ALS is also called as motor neuron disease.
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Symptoms and progression of ALS may vary among patients. However, it’s still essential to be aware of the signs that indicate ALS, and these are:
- Weakness, twitching, stiffness, or cramping of muscles, which usually starts in the arm or leg
- Stumbling or tripping more than usual
- Muscle twitches that can be seen under the skin (fasciculations)
- Difficulty with chewing and swallowing (dysphagia) and forming words (dysarthria)
- Overactive gag reflexes
- Slurred speech
- Spasticity or muscle stiffness
- Abnormal reflexes (hyperreflexia)
- Inability to maintain a good posture
- Muscle athropy
- Difficulty breathing
- Uncontrollable moments of laughter and crying
- Positive result in Babinski sign
ALS occurs in 2 per 100,000 people. While there’s no known cause for the disease, there are risk factors that affects a person’s chances of developing it. These are:
- Family History – 5 to 10% of people affected with ALS inherited the disease. Children of people who acquired ALS through hereditary reasons also have an increased chance of developing the condition later on.
- Age – Older people tend to be more prone to ALS. The condition usually affects individuals between 40 and 60 years old.
- Gender – Among individuals who are younger than 65 years old, ALS is slightly more prevalent in men than women. However, this disparity disappears after age 70.
- Smoking – Smoking can double a person’s risk to the disease. Also, the period of time that a person smoked also affects his chances of developing ALS. That’s why, stopping the habit can help in lowering a person’s chances and susceptibility.
- Lead exposure – Being exposed lead also affects a person’s likelihood of acquiring ALS.
- Serving in the military – It is found that people who served in the military are at higher risks of ALS. The link could be attributed to exposure to certain metals, chemicals, injuries, and infection.
The cause of ALS is still unknown, and research is still underway to determine what causes the disease. Since that is the case, there is still no definite way to prevent the condition. What you can do is lessen your chances of developing ALS through taking control of the risk factors that you can manage, such as smoking and exposure to certain substances. Some researchers also suggest increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables to help lower your risk.
Diagnostic Tests for Detection
ALS can be challenging to detect because there are certain disorders that have similar characteristics. That’s why a series of diagnostic tests is usually done in order to rule out illnesses and verify the presence of ALS. Examinations include:
- Medical history and physical examination – evaluation of your overall health and medical history to determine factors that can affect your risk.
- Electromyogram (EMG) – a test that evaluates the electrical activity of the muscles
- Nerve conduction study – a test done to determine nerve damage and the ability of nerves to send impulses across the body
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – an imaging test that generates detailed images of the brain and spinal cord with the use of radio waves and magnetic fields
- Blood and urine tests – analysis of urine and blood to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms
- Spinal Tap – also known as lumbar puncture or cerebral spinal fluid analysis. A test that extracts and analyzes spinal fluid
- Muscle biopsy – the removal of a small portion of the muscle for laboratory testing
ALS may affect your ability to make movements, but that doesn’t mean that your quality of life should be compromised. New Hope Medical Center is here to provide you with choices in dealing with ALS. Over the years, we worked hand in hand with patients in battling health issues and maintaining a full life. Please get in touch with us to know more.
- Atrophy – the wasting away in the size of a cell, tissue or organ
- Babinski’s sign – a test performed by stimulating the sole of the foot. If the patient’s toe extends upward, the test result is positive.
- Dysphagia – difficulty in swallowing.
- Dysphasia – impairment of speech
- Dysarthria – not being able to articulate words due to impaired muscle movement in the lips, tongue, and diaphragm.
- Fasciculations – small local contractions of muscles which can be seen visibly through the skin.
- Hyperreflexia – response to stimuli characterized by exaggeration of reflexes.
- Neuron – a nerve cell that sends messages between the brain and other parts of the body.
- Reflexes – involuntary movement or an automatic response to a stimulus
- Spasticity – continuous contraction of the muscle that results to stiffness and difficulty with normal movement and speech
Image By Frank Gaillard [GFDL 1.3 (www.gnu.org/licenses/fdl-1.3.html), GFDL 1.3 (www.gnu.org/licenses/fdl-1.3.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons