Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a disease that causes the degeneration of motor neurons, eventually leading to a loss of movement and patients being unable to breathe without assistance. We’ve put together a list of fast facts about ALS with help from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
- ALS can strike at any time, but it most commonly strikes between the ages of 55 and 75.
- It’s estimated that between 14,000 and 15,000 Americans have ALS.
- It affects slightly more men than women.
- Military veterans are 1 1/2 to two times more likely to develop ALS than people who haven’t served in the military.
- Ninety percent of ALS cases are considered “sporadic,” meaning there is no clear reason for the disease’s development.
- Five to 10 percent of ALS cases are familial and due to mutated genes.
- The first symptoms of the disease often appear in either a hand or a leg and is referred to as “limb-onset ALS.”
- For others, the first symptoms are speech or swallowing difficulties, called “bulbar-onset ALS.”
- The spread of symptoms differ from patient to patient but eventually, all patients will lose the ability to move and breathe on their own.
- ALS does not affect mental ability.
- ALS patients burn calories faster than non-sufferers and as a result are often underweight.
- There isn’t one test to diagnose ALS. Diagnosis is done through a variety of observations and scans.
- There is no known cause of ALS but researchers think that it is a combination of genetics and environmental triggers.
- Researchers are studying exposure to toxic substances, diet, and physical trauma as potential causes of the disease.
- There is no cure or effective therapy for ALS. Patients will undergo palliative therapy to make them as comfortable as possible.
- However, the drug Rilutek can offer patients a few extra months as the drug has been shown to slightly reduce motor neuron damage.
ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.