Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment
What Is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis?
This is a disease in which nerve cells slowly break down and eventually die. Also known as the motor neuron disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis weakens the muscles and affects physical functions. In other words, the ability of a person to control muscles responsible for eating, breathing, speaking and moving is affected. The reason why ALS is also known as the Lou Gehrig’s disease is that Lou Gehrig was a famous baseball player who was reported to have this disease. This neurological disease eventually leads to death.
What Are The Symptoms Of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis?
There are certain symptoms that evolve at an early stage of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis:
- Problems, or slurring, in speech.
- Difficulty in walking and carrying out daily activities.
- Weakness of hand, leg, ankles and/or heels.
- Shivering shoulders, tongue and arms.
- Difficulty in staying in an appropriate posture.
The disease initiates usually from hands, limbs or feet but then gradually spreads to other parts of the body. The muscles start to weaken and create problems in chewing, speaking, swallowing and breathing. Fortunately, the victim remains in his senses during amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
What Causes Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis?
According to several researches, the following factors are likely to result in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis:
- When the immune system starts to attack some normal cells within a body, the nerve cells may die. This is known as disorganized immune response.
- Glutamate is a chemical present in the brain and around the nerve cells. An excess of glutamate is toxic and hence harmful to the nerve cells.
- Abnormal proteins gather within the nerve cells and cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
- Changes in genetic sequences can lead to inherited amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Inherited amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is reported in approximately 5% to 10% of the total victims.
What Are The Risk Factors Of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis?
The following factors elevate the risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis:
- An age of 40 years to 60 years.
- Men are more likely to suffer from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis before the age of 65.
- Family history; around 5% to 10% of victims inherit the disease.
Some genetic characteristics are common in inherited and non-inherited amyotrophic lateral sclerosis at times. Some environmental factors include:
- Exposure to lead.
- Military service; although the reason is yet unknown, researchers believe that some injuries, infections and chemicals increases the risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
How Is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Diagnosed?
Diagnosing the disease at an early stage is difficult and therefore, doctors use certain tests to eliminate other possible neurological diseases when symptoms evolve:
- Electromyogram; to evaluate the electrical activity in muscles during contraction and rest.
- Blood and urine tests.
- Muscle biopsy.
- Lumbar puncture.
- Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI
- Study of nerve conduction.
How Is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Treated?
Unfortunately, there is no way a person can eliminate amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. However certain medications and therapies are used to slow down the symptoms and provide relief to the victim:
- Riluzole to reduce the amount of glutamate.
- Breathing observation.
- Occupational therapy.
- Speech therapy.
- Nutritional support.
- Physical therapy.
By : Natural Health News