Our Records are Incomplete for Drugs
Commonality is rare
Incidence is approximately 1 in 50,000 people
Our Records are Incomplete for Further Tests
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (abbreviated to ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) is a progressive, often fatal disease characterized by the degeneration of motor neurons; cells in the central nervous system which regulate voluntary muscle movement.
The exact cause of ALS has yet to be found, although incidence of the disease has been linked to a number of factors, such as:
· Viral infection;
· Exposure to heavy metals or toxic substances;
· Genetic defects;
· Abnormalities of the immune system; or
· Enzyme dysfunction.
The motor neurons gradually degenerate, losing the ability to send signals to muscles.
The affected muscle becomes weaker, and slight twitching (fasciculation) may develop. Eventually, it wastes away (atrophy), rendering the patient unable to control voluntary motions.
Symptoms and diagnosis
By the nature of the disease, the symptoms of ALS worsen as it progresses. These symptoms include:
· Weakness in the limbs;
· Diminished manual dexterity;
· Difficulty speaking or swallowing; and
· Inability to control emotion.
There is no test that can give a definitive diagnosis for ALS. Generally, diagnosis is based on physical symptoms observed by the doctor, and the result of tests which eliminate other possible diseases.
There is no known cure for ALS, although the drug riluzole has been found to lessen damage to motor neurons by disrupting the release of particular chemicals within the body.
Other treatments for ALS are aimed at alleviating symptoms and optimizing patients’ quality of life. A combination of medication, therapy and assistive equipment can help to make patients as independent, mobile and comfortable as possible.