Sunday, 7 January 2018

Als Disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) : Symptoms, Warnings And Risks

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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a type of motor neuron disease. It refers to a group of progressive, neurological diseases that cause dysfunction in the nerves that control muscle movement. This leads to muscle weakness and changes in how the body works. In the later stages, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) affects the nerves that control breathing, and this can be fatal. ALS is the most common type of motor neuron disease (MND). It is sometimes called Lou Gehrig's disease , after the famous baseball player who had the condition. The 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge aimed to raise awareness and funds for research.

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ALS is not contagious. There is no cure for ALS and few treatment options for the majority of people living with the disease. Approximately 80 per cent of people with ALS die within two to five years of being diagnosed. Over time, as the muscles of the body break down, someone living with ALS will lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, swallow, and eventually breathe.

Symptoms Of Als Disease
Early signs and symptoms of ALS include:
◾Difficulty walking or doing your normal daily activities
◾Tripping and falling
◾Weakness in your leg, feet or ankles
◾Hand weakness or clumsiness
◾Slurred speech or trouble swallowing
◾Muscle cramps and twitching in your arms, shoulders and tongue
◾Difficulty holding your head up or keeping good posture
◾Uncontrolled outbursts of laughing or crying, known as emotional lability
◾Pain
◾Fatigue
◾Problems with saliva, and mucus
◾Difficulty breathing and swallowing, in the later stages

Early symptoms may appear differently in people, but usually include a weakened grip, which can cause difficulty picking up or holding objects; weakness at the shoulder that makes lifting the arm difficult; dragging of the leg and slurred speech. This condition is not normally painful but as the damage to the muscles and nerves increases it becomes more and more debilitating and can eventually lead to a person being unable to move. They may also find communicating, swallowing and breathing very difficult.

Types
The most common form of ALS is called sporadic ALS, meaning the disease can affect anyone regardless of gender, ethnicity or age although it most often affects people between the ages of 40 and 60.
The other type of ALS is called familial ALS, which means it is capable of being passed from a parent to his or her child. Approximately 5 to 10% of ALS cases are familial. Regardless of whether someone has sporadic or familial ALS, 30% of all people with the disease have a form referred to as Bulbar ALS. In the early stages of Bulbar ALS, the motor neurons in the corticobulbar area of the brainstem are the first to be affected. This means that the muscles of the head, face and neck become paralyzed before muscles in other parts of the body.

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Complications

Eating problems
People with ALS can develop malnutrition and dehydration from damage to the muscles that control swallowing. They are also at higher risk of getting food, liquids or saliva into the lungs, which can cause pneumonia. A feeding tube can reduce these risks and ensure proper hydration and nutrition.

Dementia
Some people with ALS experience problems with memory and making decisions, and some are eventually diagnosed with a form of dementia called frontotemporal dementia.Speaking problems
Most people with ALS will develop trouble speaking over time. This usually starts as occasional, mild slurring of words, but progresses to become more severe. Speech eventually becomes more difficult for others to understand, and people with ALS often rely on other communication technologies to communicate.

Breathing problems
Over time, ALS paralyzes the muscles you use to breathe. You may need a device to help you breathe at night, similar to what someone with sleep apnea might wear. For example, you may be given continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) to assist with your breathing at night.


Most people who develop MND are between the ages of 40 and 60, however it can also occur in people in their 20s and 30s. And men are 20 per cent more likely to develop the degenerative condition.


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Author: Richard Smith