16 Fast Facts About ALS

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.

MORE: How a speech and language pathologist can help ALS patients.

  • 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.

MORE: Explaining the progression of ALS

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.

Wendy is a proven blogger and social media manager who has helped to build online communities for businesses and organizations. She currently heads the website’s social outreach online through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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Wendy is a proven blogger and social media manager who has helped to build online communities for businesses and organizations. She currently heads the website’s social outreach online through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

2 comments

  1. Rushan Samarasinghe says:

    What are the real theories for the causes of ALS? I would love to offer some, after observing my father’s life

    • Hans says:

      Hi Rushan,
      I’m als a patient can you share your observations? Maybe I can change my way of life if its not to late.

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