Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS): Hard Cold Facts about this Fatal Disease

by DailyHealthPost Editorial

amyotrophic lateral sclerosis als

What are other risk factors associated with ALS?

Currently, only a small percentage (5-10%) of ALS cases can be clearly linked to genetics, which leaves a lot of room to speculate other possible causes. [6] Guam has an extremely high rate of ALS among its population, which has led researchers to believe it is due to the people’s diet of highly poisonous nuts from the indigenous cycad tree.  [7]

Non-genetic risk factors which could contribute to the risk of ALS include tobacco use, nutrition, ethnicity, chemical and radiation exposure, sports and exercise and pollution.

How does ALS progress?

The progression of ALS will be different for each person. It is not uncommon for someone to have the disease for years and to be asymptomatic. ALS affects the neurons in the brain and spinal cord, which will result in muscle cramps and twitches, stiffness and weakness.

When the brain cannot control muscle motions, mobility becomes severely degraded and it causes problems chewing, swallowing, and breathing.  As ALS reaches its final stage, a person’s entire body will become totally paralyzed; respiratory failure and death will occur.

How does ALS affect the body and mind?

Because Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis affects the brain and spinal cord, which controls the nerves and movements throughout a person’s whole body, the disease can manifest in both the body and mind. For example, the ALS Association reports a link between ALS and cognitive dysfunction. [8]

There is a wide range of ALS patients, who reportedly experience no cognitive changes. However, there are others who have moderate difficulties and in some situations, more severe cognitive issues and dementia can present.

Can ALS be cured?

Currently, there is no known cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. While ALS is not curable, it can be treated using Riluzole, which is a drug that slows the progression of the disease but has no lasting effects.

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Although the life expectancy for someone with ALS averages about 2-5 years, the disease and its progression will vary and many individuals have lived for much longer than expected.

How can you support ALS awareness?

With ongoing clinical drug trials and research, people with ALS can have an improved quality of life. Social media campaigns and other efforts to raise awareness can help spread the word about the disease and encourage people to continue donating in order to fund future research. You can help support ALS awareness by participating in the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” and spreading the word about the disease to everyone you know.

Bill Gates ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

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