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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
12/9/10

What is A.L.S?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord which control voluntary muscle movement. The nerve cells die and are not able to send signals to the muscles. Without functioning neurons, the individual’s muscle groups begin to fail. Among the first to fail are the chest muscles which makes it impossible to breathe on one’s own (2). This disease is extremely rare, only effecting about 5,000 people every year in the United States (1).   A.L.S is most commonly found in males, and normally not diagnosed until the individual reaches about 45-75 years of age (2).   There are only about 10% of cases where A.L.S is caused by a genetic defect.   In the other 90% of cases, the cause is unknown.   Once individuals are diagnosed, they typically live from 3-5 years after symptoms develop (2).
An A.L.S patient experiences a whirlwind of symptoms. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, gagging, muscle cramps, muscle weakness, paralysis, slow speech pattern, hoarseness of the voice, weight loss, feet swelling, muscle spasms, and drooling. These symptoms lead to more complications such as loss of ability to care for oneself, lung failure, Pneumonia, and pressure sores. A.L.S however, does not affect a person’s ability to think or reason or their bladder or bowel function.
This disease makes life extremely expensive to take care of oneself. Electronic wheelchairs, countless numbers of pills, machines for breathing, devices for stretching muscles, and devices for communicating are just some of the things A.L.S patients need. Although certain drugs may control some of the symptoms, a cure for A.L.S has not yet been found.
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Works Used
  1) http://www.amyotrophiclateralsclerosis.org/statistics.htm
  2) https://health.google.com/health/ref/Amyotrophic+lateral+sclerosisFeeding tube

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