Do you know the different 7 stages of ALS disease? If your loved one is suffering from this condition, knowing these various stages can help them prepare for what is coming next. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a frightening condition that no one wishes to have. Physical changes that may happen with ALS might cause trouble, for instance, in keeping the mouth clean. You can contact this clinic to help ALS patients and other special patients to address their dental needs and get relief from this concern. In any case, this article will explore the different stages of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, including its early symptoms.
What is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)?
Otherwise called Lou Gehrig’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurological condition that destroys motor neurons in the body. These neurons are essential for muscle movement, such as walking, talking, breathing, eating, and drinking.
In addition, ALS is a rare condition among individuals. It affects individuals at any stage in their life. However, the risk of ALS rises with age, and it is bound to be diagnosed in middle-aged people.
Who Can Get ALS?
ALS affects individuals of all races and ethnic backgrounds. Common risk factors include:
Even though the condition can strike at any age, ALS symptoms most commonly appear between 55 and 75.
Race and Ethnicity
Non-Hispanics and Caucasians are most likely to have the condition.
Men are slightly more likely to have the disease compared to women. Nevertheless, as people age, the difference between men and women vanishes.
Most ALS cases are hereditary, which implies that a person can inherit the disease from a parent. Mutations in more than a dozen genes have been found to result in familial ALS.
Different Stages Of ALS
The motor neurons in ALS patients will gradually progress through the seven stages. Eventually, it decreases the person’s ability to walk, speak, write, and breathe, causing a shortened life expectancy.
Some of the early symptoms of ALS include stiffness and weakness in muscles, legs, and ankles, stumbling and falling, and slurred speech. ALS patients may not go through similar symptoms as they fluctuate from one individual to another. In addition, these stages of ALS progress differently depending upon the individual body.
You can determine the early stages of ALS by the early symptoms such as muscle weakness, tightness, stiffness, and cramping. These indications generally begin when the individual is around 50 or 60 years old.
The older individual affected by ALS will gradually lose control, promoting weak grip, poor balance, and trouble talking. These indications make it difficult for them to do regular tasks such as securing clothes, opening a bottle, and numerous activities.
It is usually termed limb onset ALS if the symptoms start in the arms or legs. If the case influences the speech first, most specialists refer to it as bulbar onset ALS.
Generally, there is no pain in the earlier phases of ALS as they just slowly occur as the disease advances. Most of the time, this level happens even before the doctor makes a diagnosis. Additionally, ALS does not influence the bladder control of a person or other senses.
The second stage is the doctor’s diagnosis. During this phase, the signs are clear, and the muscle weakness begins spreading continuously to different body parts. The doctor will typically look into the person’s test results and previous medical history to diagnose this condition.
Furthermore, a study in 2018 emphasizes the trouble of diagnosing ALS as frequently, doctors and health professionals preclude these conditions before officially diagnosing them with ALS.
Most doctors usually use the following tests for ALS findings:
- MRI Scans
- Electromyography tests
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Thyroid and parathyroid hormone level tests
- Muscle biopsies
- Nerve biopsies
- Neurological check-ups
In any case, most people diagnosed with ALS disease retain high mental and reasoning ability. They are especially mindful of the loss of muscular capacity in their body as the ALS stages progress.
Involvement Of Second Region: Middle Stages
The following stage incorporates the involvement of the second area. During this level, most of the voluntary muscles become paralyzed. The muscles in the lungs liable for breathing in and breathing out will likewise be seriously harmed and compromised.
In addition to this stage, some muscles become paralyzed, while some unused muscles become shortened forever. This condition is known as contracture, and it hinders joints such as elbows from completely straightening.
Furthermore, muscle weakness can cause eating and swallowing very difficult, and there is an increased risk of choking. Some ALS patients in this stage may out of nowhere burst into wild giggling or crying with no appropriate explanation, a reaction called the pseudobulbar affect (PBA).
Involvement Of Third Region: Middle Stages
The fourth stage in ALS disease is the involvement of the third region. As the condition advances, the mobility function of the patient turns out to be highly restricted. They might require a healthcare professional or anyone to deal with their own necessities.
During the middle stages, ALS patients also encounter chronic headaches, fatigue, and helplessness against pneumonia. There will be speech disorientation at times, and it will become challenging to eat and drink through the mouth. Moreover, respiratory failure may also happen in the middle stages and is one of the primary sources of death in this condition.
Mandatory Gastrostomy Stages
The fifth stage requires the gastrostomy method as the muscles are paralyzed, including the mouth and throat muscles.
What’s more, dysphagia turns into a significant issue for individuals with this condition, making it exceptionally difficult for them to allow nourishment and other fundamental liquids orally. Individuals experiencing severe dysphagia have problems identified with weight loss, swallowing, and breathing difficulties.
Typically, doctors recommend a gastrostomy feeding technique to offer sufficient nutritional support for individuals experiencing extreme dysphagia. In addition, this feeding method can also improve the survival rate, healthy outcome, and quality of life of people affected by ALS disease. This treatment technique additionally guarantees appropriate hydration for the patient.
The sixth stage is typically known as the end or late stage. Since most voluntary muscles are deadened, even those engaged with breathing become more fragile. The body becomes unfit to get sufficient air for breathing. Hence, a doctor can provide breathing via ventilators in the late and final stages.
The last and final phase of ALS disease is death. Eventually, a patient dies because of a lack of air and the incapacity to operate lung muscles. Respiratory failure is the significant reason for people diagnosed with ALS, followed by pneumonia and cardiovascular problems.
Treatment For ALS
There is no definite cure for ALS disease. However, there are different treatments available. Usually, managing ALS includes addressing the symptoms and giving supportive solid care to improve personal satisfaction and prolong survival. This might incorporate things, for example, a feeding tube for nutritional reasons and breathing support with a ventilator.
While there are a few medications to treat the progressions of ALS manifestations, their viability, and mechanism of activity are still not clear. Prescriptions regarding ALS treatment are generally drugs that help reduce signs and symptoms such as muscle weakness, spasms, and spasticity. In any case, if your loved one has any of the indications of ALS, a doctor must assess their condition right away.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Fact Sheet.
Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA).
Symptoms and Diagnosis.
What causes difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)?
Tube gastrostomy. Techniques and complications.