Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)– What You Need to Know

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a degenerative illness that affects the central nervous system (i.e., brain and spinal cord). It is chronic in nature and causes altered swallowing reflex, speech, and limb movements. ALS is more common in men than in women and most commonly found in ages 50-70 years old.

You might find sources that call this condition Lou Gehrig’s disease, which is in reference to the famous baseball player Lou Gehrig, who was diagnosed with the disease in 1939.

ALS is diagnosed via an electromyogram (EMG).

The Signs and Symptoms of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Depending on the initial motor neurons affected by ALS, symptoms may vary from one person to another.

Here are the common signs and symptoms of ALS:

  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Emotional lability (e.g., excessive crying, excessive laughter)
  • Tongue atrophy
  • Excess saliva (drooling)
  • Hyperreflexia
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weakness in distal upper limbs

The Causes of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

The vast majority of ALS cases are sporadic, which means they occur in random people without a family history of this condition.

As for familial ALS, it accounts for 5–10% of total cases, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Scientists identified the following risk factors:

  • An immune reaction that targets motor neurons
  • Accumulation of abnormally folded proteins inside nerve cells
  • Imbalances in the neurotransmitter glutamate
  • Smoking
  • Lead exposure
  • Military service

The Treatment Options for ALS

ALS requires a multidisciplinary approach to address the symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease.

To treat ALS effectively, patients need the help of the following professionals:

  • Neurologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Nutritionist
  • Gastroenterologist
  • A speech therapist
  • An occupational therapist
  • A social worker

Your Provider may also prescribe one of the following medications:

  • Riluzole
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin C
  • Tricyclic Antidepressants

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a degenerative condition that slowly alters the person’s ability to control their muscles. If you believe you have ALS, telemedicine makes it possible for you to get the care you deserve. Schedule a virtual consultation with a Telakai Health online Provider and get on the road to recovery. Schedule your visit today.