Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

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What is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)?

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a neuro- muscular disease that causes degeneration of voluntary muscles and nerves. Stephen Hawking is a famous personality affected by ALS.

Other names - Maladie de Charcot, Lou Gehrig's disease, Motor Neurone Disease (MND)


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a rapidly progressive and fatal disease that is caused by the degeneration of motor neurons that control voluntary muscular movements of the body.

It is also called Lou Gehrig's disease after the famed American baseballer by the same name, who died of ALS in 1941, aged 37. Stephen Hawking, the world renowned physicist, is among those afflicted, currently alive.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

ALS is classified under 'motor neuron disorders' and is characterized by the gradual degeneration of motor neurons which are nerve cells localized in the brain, brainstem, and spinal cord which control communication between the nervous system and the voluntary muscles all over the body.

Upper motor neurons (brain)

Lower motor neurons (spinal cord)

Voluntary muscles

The disorder begins when the upper and lower motor neurons degenerate and stop sending signals to the muscles bringing about weakening, twitching (fasciculation) and their eventual atrophy. Initially the disease may manifest as difficulty in walking or running, writing or speech. The patient may ultimately loose control over all voluntary movements and there comes a stage when the brain no longer controls voluntary movements of the body and the patient becomes weak and is unable to walk or move his arms or legs.

Breathing too becomes difficult as the muscles of the chest and the diaphragm are damaged. Although a ventilator may help for a while, the afflicted persons very often die from respiratory failure within 3-5 years of disease onset.

Generally, the intelligence of the patient is not impaired. However certain changes in cognitive function is brought about such as memory loss, problems with making decisions and depression. However, the person's ability to see, smell, hear, taste or touch is not affected.

ALS is one of the common neuromuscular diseases which mostly affects men, more than women, of all races and ethnic background. Majority of the disease ( almost 90%) is sporadic and only in 10% of cases are familial (inherited). It is generally seen in people aged over 50 years.

The actual causes of ALS are not very clear. Familial predisposition has been implicated, but in the vast majority of affected people it occurs de novo. In 90-95% of ALS cases the disease is not familial, but occurs sporadically.

5-10% of all ALS cases are genetically determined. One-fifth of these cases occur due to a mutation in the gene SOD1 that codes for the enzyme superoxidase dismutase 1. It is obvious that other genes are involved and are waiting to be discovered.

ALS cannot be completely cured but medications are available that can control the symptoms and prolong life. Some people can live for as long as even ten years with proper treatment.


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Are there any new treatments for Als?
Andrea59 Friday, November 9, 2012
My dearest friend, Joy Styles, died from ALS on July 1st 2011. She was only 52. She was running half marathons and was very active when she noticed an atrophy in her left and and a weakness in her right leg. I have created a website in her name that is about her and has useful information about the disease. I wish I could do more, but every little bit helps. God bless everyone who has had experience with this terrible disease.
hopeforjoy Monday, October 31, 2011
My symptoms started off with extreme muscle spasms and cramps. It would get worse when I was on my monthly. I was walking and running at the time to lose some weight that I thought was causing the muscle aches, headaches, and the pain that I was feeling in my whole body. One day it got overwhelming. It was August 17th, 2007. I felt like I was getting the life squeezed out of me and my mind was racing the whole time while experiencing difficulty speaking, walking, and trying to control the jerky movements. I was admitted as a psychiatric patient at that time, now it's been two years later and I feel like I am disseminating. I had another attack recently and that is what scared me enough to go to the neurologist. I am still afraid. I want to see it, and I'm interested in the damage that my body has endured. Can't wait to start treatment.
Doctor_Lilly Monday, September 19, 2011
is there any connection between injections, dentistry and ALS? my mothers first symtoms began a month after the dentist!
maltese Wednesday, August 18, 2010
May be due to mercury toxicity as mercury is used in filling teeth. Use [abuse] of pain killers are also responsible for ALS. My sister is also suffering from bulber palasy and has been on ventilatory support since March last year. Her symptons started after visiting dentist.
Ajit52 Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Yes, I'm certain after reading a book "It's All In Your Head" by Hal Huggins, that ALS is due to microbes surviving under a healed area where a tooth has been pulled, in a cavitation. An infection that turns systemic and thus breaks down healthy nerves. I have a friend in the early stages of ALS right now and had recent abcesses/dental work done shortly before diagnoses. When one has a tooth pulled, they must insist on sterilization of the cavitation or you can die from it! If you have ALS, maybe re opening the healed over cavitation and cleaning it out and then go through a detox and then take supplements to heal nerves such as magnesium and b vitamins and omega 3 etc.. Best of Luck
Guest Monday, July 7, 2014
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