Sunday, 7 January 2018

Causes Of Als Disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), Things To Know

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ALS is short for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. You might also have heard it called Lou Gehrig's disease, after the baseball player who was diagnosed with it in the 1930s. A French doctor named Jean-Martin Charcot discovered the condition in 1869.

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ALS is a progressive disease, which means it gets worse over time. It affects nerves in your
brain and spinal cord that control your muscles. As your muscles get weaker, it gets harder for you to walk, talk, eat, and breathe .
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that between 14,500 and 15,000 people in the United States (U.S.) had ALS in 2016, with around 5,000 people receiving a diagnosis annually. Worldwide, it is thought to affect between 2 and 5 people in every 100,000.
Most people with ALS will live for 3 to 5 years after first experiencing symptoms, but around 10 percent of patients will live for another 10 years or longer.

Risk factors
Established risk factors for ALS include:

  • Heredity : Five to 10 percent of the people with ALS inherited it (familial ALS). In most people with familial ALS, their children have a 50-50 chance of developing the disease.
  • Age : ALS risk increases with age, and is most common between the ages of 40 and 60.
  • Sex : Before the age of 65, slightly more men than women develop ALS. This sex difference disappears after age 70.
  • Genetics : Some studies examining the entire human genome (genomewide association studies) found many similarities in the genetic variations of people with familial ALS and some people with noninherited ALS. These genetic variations might make people more susceptible to ALS.

Causes Of ALS Disease
There is no one thing that causes ALS. Rather, ALS is recognized as having multiple interacting causes that are likely based on changes in people’s genes, and possibly contribution of environmental factors. A number of genes have been identified as playing a role in the development of ALS. Through research, we are learning more about ALS and the multiple factors that may trigger its development.
Other possible causes of ALS Disease are :

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  • Immune system problems : Your immune system protects your body from foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. In your brain, microglia are the main type of immune cell. They destroy germs and damaged cells. With ALS, microglia might also destroy healthy motor neurons.
  •  Smoking : Smoking is the only likely environmental risk factor for ALS. The risk seems to be greatest for women, particularly after menopause. Some evidence suggests that exposure to lead or other substances in the workplace or at home may be linked to ALS. Much study has been done, but no single agent or chemical has been consistently associated with ALS.
  •  Glutamate : This chemical sends signals to and from the brain and nerves. It's a type of neurotransmitter. With ALS, glutamate builds up in the spaces around nerve cells and may damage them. The medications riluzole ( Rilutek) works by lowering glutamate levels and can help slow the development of the disease.
  •  Military service : Recent studies indicate that people who have served in the military are at higher risk of ALS. It's unclear exactly what about military service may trigger the development of ALS. It may include exposure to certain metals or chemicals, traumatic injuries, viral infections, and intense exertion.
  •  Oxidative stress : Your cells use oxygen to make energy. Some of the oxygen your body uses to make energy may form into toxic substances called free radicals, which can damage cells. The medication edaravone (Radicava) is an antioxidant that can help control these free radicals.
  •  Heredity : Five to 10 percent of the people with ALS inherited it (familial ALS). In most people with familial ALS, their children have a 50-50 chance of developing the disease.
  •  Mitochondria problems : Mitochondria are the parts of your cells where energy is made. A problem with them might lead to ALS or make an existing case worse.
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Author: Richard Smith