ALS: What Exactly Is It? What Causes It? How Do You Know if You Have It?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an uncommon neurological disease that mainly affects the nerve cells called neurons which are responsible for controlling voluntary muscle movement that means those muscles we choose to move. Voluntary muscles produce movements like chewing, walking, and talking. The disease is progressive which means the symptoms get worse over the time-a disease which gradually causes each external body part to stop working. Currently, there is no cure for ALS and no effective treatment to halt or reverse the progression of the disease.
What is ALS?
ALS is an acronym for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. This disease attacks your motor neurons, nerve cells that normally send signals to muscles. The main problem with these motor neurons is that they don’t have the proteins that tell the muscle what to do. These neurons die off, causing your muscles to weaken and atrophy. This is the same kind of weakness that happens to muscles when you’re out of shape or when you stop exercising. This disease strikes both men and women. However, women are more likely to develop the symptoms and other symptoms early in life. The symptoms can appear when a person is in their 30s and 40s. The late symptoms of the disease also include stiffness, difficulty with swallowing, weakness in the limbs and muscles, loss of muscle mass, and balance problems that gradually cause each external body part to stop working.
What causes it?
ALS is the result of random genetic mutations that damage motor neurons, the nerve cells that connect to and control the muscles in the brain and spinal cord. Neurodegenerative diseases are caused by the accumulation of genetic mutations (that were not present at birth) that modify the function of the motor neurons. This can occur in several forms, including sporadic or hereditary and one or more of the following types of inherited motor neuron diseases:: Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) – a rare, degenerative disease that causes severe weakness of the muscles and the inability to lift arms or legs. People who have this disease may also have trouble swallowing, swallow a stool, or vomit. SMA is the most common genetic cause of infant death.
How do you know if you have it?
ALS affects the motor neurons that conduct messages to and from the brain. These motor neurons grow abnormally. That means the messages travel slower, and that other parts of the body do not receive messages they’re supposed to receive. What are the most common symptoms of ALS? There are two main types of ALS: sporadic and familial. Sporadic ALS usually presents in middle-aged individuals and younger. The symptoms appear gradually, and the motor neuron loss is progressive and non-progressive. The genetic cause of familial ALS is often inherited from a parent with ALS. Why is it so rare? The disease is rare, affecting only about 5,000 people in the United States each year. That number jumps to about 6,000 people with familial ALS. The cause of familial ALS is unclear.
What are the symptoms?
Early symptoms of ALS may include weakness in the face, mouth, and throat, arm and leg weakness, slurred speech, and the inability to move muscles in your hands, feet, arms, or legs. As the disease progresses, your muscles gradually become increasingly weakened and eventually become paralyzed. However, while your body might be paralyzed, your mind still works. The most common symptom of ALS is muscle stiffness, which causes a patient to be constantly aware that his or her body is failing. This heightened awareness or muscle stiffness can lead to frustration, depression, and self-blame Somewhat less common symptoms include changes in speech, gait, and urinary incontinence. What causes ALS?
Who is at risk for ALS?
Anyone can get ALS, though the risk of getting the disease is significantly higher in people with family members who have it, or who have close genetic links to it. People with a history of neuropathology in the spinal cord, people with certain neurological disorders, and people with an unusually high level of alpha-synuclein in their spinal fluid are also at higher risk for the disease. What causes ALS? ALS is believed to be caused by an enzyme deficiency or an inherited mutation in a gene called SOD1. This gene codes for a protein called SOD1, which is vital to the survival of the motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. These are nerve cells that power the voluntary muscles we use every day. Without enough SOD1, these nerve cells die, causing ALS. How does ALS develop? And how it gradually causes each body part to stop working?
How is it diagnosed and how is it treated?
The symptoms of ALS depend on which part of the body they affect. When the disease affects the brain, patients typically begin to experience changes in muscle function (i.e. muscle weakness) that prevent them from moving. When the disease affects the spinal cord, patients develop ALS-related muscle weakness that eventually impairs their ability to walk, talk, and eat. In contrast, motor neuron diseases like ALS (which affects the brain and spinal cord) and Alzheimer’s (which is typically a disease affecting the hippocampus) typically affect the muscle fibers associated with voluntary movement, rather than the voluntary muscles themselves. How is ALS treatment.