What are the stages of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis? How severe is this disease in the first place? This article will talk about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the stages of this disease and other important facts about it.
What is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or better known as ALS is a type of progressive disease that has various adverse effects on a person’s nervous system. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named for a famous baseball player who had the disease. This is an often fatal disease, and it has no cure. Doctors do not yet fully understand how this disease occurs, although there has been some evidence and some studies that support that the disease can be hereditary.
What are the stages of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)?
There are multiple stages of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). People who have this disease will experience symptoms in varying degrees until death occurs.
In the first stage of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the patient may experience difficulty in balancing and may trip over their own feet as they walk. This stage usually happens before any diagnosis for the disease is made. The muscles of the patient may be losing mass at this stage, and the patient may experience twitching and cramping.
There is more muscle atrophy in this stage. More muscles become paralyzed, while some remain normal. People who have ALS may not be able to stand up on their own, or if they can, it may be more complicated than it once was. The person may also experience difficulty in breathing. This is caused by the breathing muscles becoming weak.
The mobility of the person will be extremely limited at this point. Breaking will be compromised and made it extremely difficult for the person, and most voluntary muscle movements are already impossible. Because respiration is already difficult for the person, they may also feel extreme fatigue and stress. The person may also become prone to illnesses such as pneumonia and also have more headaches because of the lack of oxygen. Many fatalities occur because of the lack of respiration in a patient with ALS.
End or last stage
If patients reach this far, they would already have all the symptoms that are associated with ALS. They may be paralyzed, unable to speak or breathe properly. The best thing for patients at this stage of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is to put them into hospice care. The medical professionals who are employed in these types of medical facilities are fully trained and capable of taking care of these patients in the final moments of their lives.
Causes of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Around five to ten percent of the cases of ALS that are hereditary. However, for the rest of the 90 to 95 percent of cases, little is known about what actually causes the disease.
Symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Symptoms vary from patient to patient, as it depends on which neurons in the brain are affected by the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Some of the signs that are common across many patients are clumsiness, cognitive and behavioral changes, tripping and falling, difficulty in walking, slurred speech, weakness in the feet and ankles and muscle twitching or cramps.
Risk factors for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
ALS may be inherited from previous generations. If you have family members who have had ALS, you may be at more risk of having the disease yourself.
The risk for ALS gets more as a person reaches 65 years of age. However, there have been patients who have been diagnosed with ALS who are much younger than 65 years old.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is slightly riskier for men than in women. This is true for people in the age range of 65 to 70 years of age, although the sex factor becomes insignificant when the people reach 70 years old, and both men and women have the same risk factor.
Are there any complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)?
If a person has been diagnosed with ALS, they may experience complications such as eating problems and breathing problems, dementia and speaking problems. These are all related to the muscle atrophy that is linked to the disease. These patients will usually have to rely on other tools and equipment to help them with these tasks. A good example is the famous physicist Stephen Hawking, using a computerized voice and system to help him speak.
However, as the disease progresses, these complications will become worse and worse. This is why it becomes increasingly essential for the families of people who have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS to seek more advanced medical treatment and facilities, to help their loved ones suffer less and live better quality lives even if they have ALS.