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Things You Should Know About Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) – A Nerve Disease with Extreme Effects
What is ALS?
Every two people out of one lakh global population is affected by a nerve disease called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS. It is a growing neurodegenerative disease which affects the nerve cells of spinal cord and brain. It is also called Lou Gehrig’s disease. Let’s know a little more about this disease in details.
ALS directly attacks the motor nerve which controls several muscles leading to loss of physical strength and inability to move arms, legs and body.
- Weakness of muscles in hands, legs and speech weakness.
- Twitching and muscle cramps especially of hands and feet.
- Loss of strength in hands and legs
- Difficulty in understanding the patient’s voice due to thickness in speech and more advanced stage leads to difficulty in swallowing food and breathing due to failure of muscles in the diaphragm and chest wall. In the advanced stage, the patient requires ventilation support to breathe.
But sadly even after its diagnosis about 20% with ALS lives for about 5years or more. Mostly Respiratory failure is the main cause of death amongst patients.
Ritulek is the only medication for ALS that is U.S Food and Drug Administration approved. However, it is not a complete cure to this disease it can only extend the life span for a few more months but can’t restore the physical strength of the patient. It can only protect nerves of brain and spinal cord from too much of glutamate that can be a major reason for this nervous damage.
Raising Awareness for ALS
Boston College baseball player Pete Frates also, an ALS patient introduced the ice bucket challenge for general awareness of this disease. The ice bucket challenge is dumping a bucket of ice on somebody’s head to spread the awareness and also promotion of donation for research. This challenge went on viral in social networking sites, and many big celebrities took this challenge and gave donations. According to ALS website it has gained $23 million funds.
Famous personalities affected by ALS
Baseball player Lou Gehrig, the famous physicist Stephen Hawking, mother of “Cake Boss” TV show star Buddy Valastro are some big personalities seriously affected by ALS.