Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Popularly known as Lou’s Gehrig’s disease – after the famous baseball player who was diagnosed with the disorder – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive and ultimately fatal nervous system disease affecting nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and causing loss of muscle control.
ALS often starts with muscle twitching and weakness in a limb or with slurred speech. As the disease progresses, it affects control of the muscles that are needed to move, speak, eat, and breathe.
For most ALS patients, the cause of the disease is unknown and there is no cure.
Risk Factors for ALS
While the cause of ALS is not known, there are certain established risk factors. These include:
- Familial ALS. A small percentage of cases are inherited from ancestors
- Genetics. Studies have found similarities in the genetic variations of people with familial ALS and those with non-inherited ALS, making them more susceptible to the disease
- Age. Your risk of developing ALS increases with age, typically between the ages of 40 and mid-60s
- Sex. Men are more likely to develop ALS than women before the age of 65, but both are equally susceptible after 70
- Exposure to environmental toxins. Research links exposure to lead or other substances at home or in the office to ALS. Smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke is another environmental risk factor
Complications from ALS over time may include breathing problems, speech difficulties, and dementia.
Diagnosis and Treatment for ALS in Southeast Michigan
The board-certified specialists at Associates in Neurology can confirm or rule out ALS with a number of tests including electromyogram (EMG), nerve conduction study, MRI, blood and urine tests, muscle biopsy, and/or spinal tap. Although the damage of ALS cannot be reversed, the progression of symptoms can be slowed and your quality of life can be improved with such treatment options as medication, nutritional support, breathing care, speech therapy, and physical therapy.
To learn more, contact us today at (248) 478-5512 to schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified neurologists at one of our convenient locations. Or, if you prefer, use our secure, online Request an Appointment form.