Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) also called Lou Gehrig’s disease. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a classic motor neuron disease. ALS is caused by a genetic defect. ALS is progressive and fatal. The usual causes of death of patients with motor neuron diseases are not directly related to the disease, but result from simultaneous additional illnesses which ultimately occur because of weakness of the body. These illnesses are often infections. Approximately 30,000 Americans currently have the disease. Genetic factors are thought to play a role; about 10 percent of cases are clearly genetic, with a family history. There are 3 types of ALS: classic sporadic, familial, and the Mariana Island forms. Classic ALS accounts for 90-95% of ALS patients in the U.S. The infrequent familial form is genetic, or inherited and tends to affect somewhat younger individuals (average 47 years of age). Most people with ALS die of respiratory failure, usually within three to five years after symptoms begin. Sometimes, people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis develop pneumonia because they can’t swallow and they inhale (aspirate) food and oral secretions into their lungs.

Generalized weakness and muscle wasting with cramps and muscle twitches common. ALS usually leaves intellect intact and spares the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. It doesn’t affect involuntary muscles, such as the muscles that control heartbeat and bladder and bowel function. Although the disease usually does not impair a person’s mind or intelligence, several recent studies suggest that some An estimated 5,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis each year. This disorder occurs in 4 to 8 per 100,000 individuals. Symptoms of lower motor neuron degeneration include muscle weakness and atrophy, muscle cramps, and fleeting twitches of muscles that can be seen under the skin (fasciculations). The treatment of ALS is also directed toward suppressing the immune inflammation felt to play a role in the degeneration of the nervous system of these patients. Muscle cramps are common for patients with lower motor neuron involvement, while patients with upper motor neuron dysfunction can have clonus or painful extensor spasms.

ALS does not affect a person¬ís mental abilities or senses. ALS patients who have difficulty speaking may benefit from working with a speech therapist. Supportive therapies play a crucial role in the care of patients with ALS. Physical therapy, rehabilitation, use of braces or a wheelchair, or other orthopedic measures may be needed to maximize muscle function and general health. Choking is common. Patients may need a tube placed into their stomach for feeding (gastrostomy). Medications also may be prescribed to relieve pain (if any), depression, anxiety, sleep problems, and constipation. Medications such as baclofen (Lioresal) and tizanidine (Zanaflex) may be used to relieve severe spasticity. Physical therapy and special equipment can enhance patients’ independence and safety throughout the course of ALS. Gentle, low-impact aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming, and stationary bicycling can strengthen unaffected muscles, improve cardiovascular health, and help patients fight fatigue and depression. Regular exercise and a physical therapy program can strengthen muscles and reduce spasticity. This helps maintain movements for as long as possible.

Treatment for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Tips

1. Physical therapy and special equipment can enhance patients’ independence and safety throughout the course of ALS.

2. Insulin-like growth factor 1 has also been studied as treatment for ALS.

3. Drugs drug riluzole (Rilutek) also are available to help individuals with pain, depression, sleep disturbances, and constipation. Individuals with ALS.

4. Choking is Patients may need a tube placed into their stomach for feeding (gastrostomy).

5. This supportive care is best treatment for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.