5 Misconceptions About ALS You Might Find Interesting

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is sometimes known as Lou Gehrig disease after the baseball player who famously suffered from it. Although ALS is a more common disease than we would like it to be, there is still little known about it and many are unaware of the details of the condition.

MORE: Find out more about seven symptoms of ALS

That lack of knowledge can lead to misconceptions about ALS. To help educate the public, we’ve put together this list featuring five common misconceptions about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

ALS is a muscle disease. 
Because most symptoms of ALS are related to muscle activity, many people don’t realize the underlying cause: damage to the nerve cells.

ALS affects only the body. 
This is not true. As ALS progresses, some patients develop cognitive impairments.

Lyme disease is one of the main causes of ALS
There are many similar symptoms between the conditions, which has led to this misconception but there is no evidence that ALS can be caused by Lyme disease or other infections.

ALS only affects old people. 
While cases of ALS are most common in 40- to 70-year-olds, this statement is not true — young people can also be diagnosed with this condition.

ALS genetics is only relevant for hereditary cases. 
Although having ALS in the family may increase your risk of developing the condition, it can be caused by genetic mutations even if there is no family history of the disease.

MORE: 10 tips for patients newly diagnosed with 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 other 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.

One comment

  1. ArtistLike says:

    “There are many similar symptoms between the conditions, which has led to this misconception but there is no evidence that ALS can be caused by Lyme disease or other infections.”

    Unfortunately, the significant overlap in symptoms has also led to many people who have (treatable) Lyme disease being misdiagnosed with ALS. There are documented cases of people having been told they have ALS, and then receiving a Lyme diagnosis, being treated with antibiotics, and recovering from their supposed ALS “death sentence.” This is significant, and it’s an important context for the above statement about Lyme disease. Lyme may not be the cause of ALS, but in some cases Lyme is *mistaken* for ALS, and without treatment Lyme disease can have similarly tragic outcomes if the infection is not properly diagnosed and treated. Here’s one man who was properly diagnosed with Lyme after a wrong ALS diagnosis and who recovered his health: https://www.lymedisease.org/372/

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