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Top 12 ALS Symptoms Exposed

What is ALS

Have you heard of ALS symptoms before? Better known in the medical world as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with its numerous features, this is one of the most debilitating diseases in existence. Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, it is classified as motor neurone disease.

ALS-Symptoms*** Motor neuron diseases (MND) are neurological disorders affecting the motor neurons which coordinate the actions of voluntary muscle activities which allow us to walk, speak and even swallow.

What Causes ALS Symptoms

Even though the exact mechanism by which ALS comes into play in human beings is not fully understood, scientists have been able to pinpoint the genetic basis of the disease.

There is a hereditary factor to it and this is seen in families that have been afflicted with it.

Called the familial ALS, this hereditary factor is related to a defective mechanism on the chromosome 21. In addition to this, a number of mutations have also been shown to be involved with the disease.

Apart from the genetic cause, a number of factors have also been identified as factors that can increase the risk of developing ALS although research is still going on. These include:

  • Head trauma
  • Contact sports
  • Exposure to electromagnetic fields
  • Prions (infectious proteins)
  • Chemical substances
  • Electric shocks

The ALS symptoms are still being very intensely studied and researched for more clues into this disease, which is still relatively much obscure.

What Are the Symptoms of ALS

Since ALS affects the motor neurones, it is no surprise at all that the following are the symptoms:

  • Weakness of the muscles
  • Atrophy of the muscles (reduction in bulk)
  • Inability to initiate control voluntary bodily movements
  • Twitching
  • Cramping

These are some of the symptoms that are seen at first and can be considered to be the early-onset symptoms but with time, as the disease progresses, the following are seen:

  • Dementia
  • Difficulty with movement
  • Muscle stiffening
  • Exaggerated reflexes or hyperreflexia
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Pseudobulbar affect.

This one comes with its own features of uncontrollable bouts of laughter, smiling or crying.

Should You Be Worried About ALS?

Yes, there is good reason for you to be worried about ALS particularly if you have someone in your family who has also suffered from the disease in the past. This is because of the severely debilitating nature of the disease.

During the late stages of the progression of the disease, the sufferer finds it almost impossible to do even the most basic things such as chewing or swallowing. There are also problems with breathing and this comes with a clear risk of choking on food or aspirating into the lungs and many sufferers eventually die of pneumonia or respiratory failure.

What Can You Do If You Have ALS Symptoms

Specialist doctors handle each of the symptoms and try to prove palliative care to the patient.

There are also few drugs like Riluzole which have been shown to have some promise. You cannot treat it at home but ensure you report ALS symptoms to experts.

Reference links:

http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/amyotrophic-lateral-sclerosis/overview.html
http://www.alsa.org/about-als/symptoms.html
http://mda.org/disease/amyotrophic-lateral-sclerosis/signs-and-symptoms

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis I YouTube clip