It is important to note that ALS is a progressive illness, which means it grows worse over time. It has an effect on the neurons in your brain and spinal cord that govern your muscular movement and coordination. As your muscles weaken, it becomes increasingly difficult for you to move, talk, eat, and breathe.
There are three different types of ALS
Sporadic ALS: In the United States, this is the most frequent type of ALS, accounting for around 90 to 95 percent of all cases. Because it happens at random and without a recognized cause, there is no evidence that this type of disease runs in families.
Familial ALS: This is an extremely rare, hereditary type of illness that accounts for less than 10% of all cases in the United States.
Guamanian ALS: It was discovered in Guam and the Trust Territories in the Pacific in the 1950s that there existed a strain of the illness.
Scientists are looking into the following causes:
Glutamate: This chemical communicates with the brain and nerves. A neurotransmitter. In ALS, glutamate accumulates up around nerve cells, causing damage.
Riluzole (Rilutek) works by reducing glutamate levels and can help halt the disease’s progression.
Immune system issues: Your immune system defends you against germs and viruses. Microglia are the major immunological cells in the brain. They destroy bacteria and faulty
Microglia may potentially kill healthy motor neurons in ALS.
Mitochondria issues: Mitochondria are the powerhouses of your cells. An issue with them may cause or worsen ALS.
Oxidation: Air gives your cells energy. Free radicals are formed when oxygen is used to produce energy in your body. The antioxidant edaravone (Radicava) can help reduce free radicals.
ALS usually begins in the hands, feet, or limbs and progresses throughout the body. Symptoms can be exceedingly distressing, making even ordinary tasks hard. ALS symptoms include:
Clumsiness — Weakened muscles in the hands and feet make holding objects difficult. Tripping and falling may increase.
Head and neck problems — Breathing, swallowing, and even holding one’s head Slurred speech
Mobility issues — Leg, foot, or ankle weakness makes walking and daily tasks difficult.
Muscle twitches — Cramping muscles in the arms, shoulders, and tongue can cause uncontrolled twitching, aggravating other symptoms.
While there is no cure for ALS, a multimodal strategy maximizes long-term survival and quality of life. Among the treatments:
Physical therapy — Because ALS causes muscular atrophy, exercise is a great strategy to slow down the disease. Low-impact workouts (walking, swimming, etc.) assist preserve strength while enhancing general health.
Occupational therapy — An occupational therapist can assist people with ALS do everyday tasks like tying shoes and climbing stairs. Occupational therapists can also suggest wheelchairs, ramps, and other gear to help maintain independence.
Medications — ALS patients are given a number of drugs. Some relieve symptoms including muscular cramping, salivation, stiffness, and emotional outbursts. Others try to cure ALS by minimizing neuronal damage and delaying the disease’s progression. The drug riluzole (Rilutek) has been proven to extend ALS survival by a few months, which is remarkable given that survival is normally two to five years following diagnosis.
How can you take care of yourself?
- Keep moving and stretching your muscles. Consult a physiotherapist about workouts.
- Minimalist eating Choose soft, easy-to-swallow meals. Try to eat standing up. Slow down.
- A voice amplifier or an erasable writing pad might aid those who have problems speaking.
- Join a support group. Sharing your problems with others may help you learn more and deal better.
- Prepare a list of advance care plans. These are advice for your doctor and family if you become unable to talk or express yourself.
- How to be safe and independent using devices:
- It can support your head if your neck muscles weaken.
- You can use foot and ankle braces, a cane, a walker, or a wheelchair.
- A ramp over stairs can let a wheelchair user enter and exit their home.
- Handrails or a shower bench help prevent shower falls. A higher toilet seat might assist you to go alone.