ALS Definition And Meaning

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ALS Definition And Meaning

You may have heard of ALS. There are many diseases we never want to have or for anyone we know to have, ALS is one of these. If you are worried about the chances of you or someone you love getting ALS, it is worthwhile to understand the disease. 

If you want to learn more about it check out:

For now, we will give you an introduction to what ALS is, and who is at risk and how to recognize it. But, right now, let us look into the definition and meaning of ALS. 

Definition & Meaning

ALS is an abbreviation for ‘Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis’. 

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a very serious disease which affects a persons’ nerve cells and makes their muscles become smaller and weaker.

An Introduction To ALS

ALS is a progressive nervous system disease which will affect the brains and spinal cords nerve cells, which results in a loss of muscular control. This disease is also often well known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. 

This is named so after the baseball player who ended up diagnosed with it, making it become much more well known prior. 

One of the worst parts of this disease is that doctors are still generally unsure as who why ALS actually happens. Although, it does seem that some cases are actually inherited.

This disease will often start with some muscular twitching, as well as some weakness in a limb, or even the slurring of speech. 

However, eventually, ALS can affect control of all the muscles we need to move, breath, ear, and speak. 

There is still no cure for ALS, which is also a fatal disease. This is why it is so important to know and understand the signs and symptoms.

What Are The Symptoms?

So, what should you be looking for? Well. 

Signs and symptoms for this disease will vary per person, depending on which specific neurons in their body are being affected.

That being said, ALS will typically begin with some muscular weakness, which starts to spread and progressively gets worse over the course of time. 

There are some signs and symptoms you may want to keep an eye out for however. These are the signs: 

  • Cognitive/ Behavior changes. 
  • Difficulty doing typical daily activities or walking. 
  • Hand weaknesses, or excessive clumsiness. 
  • Inappropriate yawning, laughing or crying. 
  • Muscular cramping, arm twitching, or twitching in your tongue or even shoulders. 
  • Slurring of speech or difficulty trying to swallow. 
  • Trips and falls. 
  • Weak feelings in your ankles, hands, or feet. 

Note that ALS will often start off in your hands and feet or other extremities. After this it will then go on to spread to other parts of the body. 

As the disease slowly starts advancing and the nerve cells start being destroyed by the disease, muscles will start to get weaker and weaker. This will end up affecting a person’s ability to chew, speak, swallow, and even breathe too! 

It should be noted that in the earlier stages of ALS, it is usually uncommon, and it is even uncommon to have pain in the later stages as well. 

It also tends not to affect your senses, or the ability to control your bladder either. 

Causes & Risk Factors Of ALS

We did previously say that doctors and scientists are still unsure what causes this disease, but we do know some about the cause. 

ALS will affect nerve cells which control your voluntary movements in your muscles, such as talking or walking, otherwise known as motor neurons. 

ALS will cause these motor neurons to deteriorate over time and eventually die. 

Your motor neurons actually extend from your brain into your spine and then to all the muscles over your body. But, when these become damaged, they stop being able to send your muscles messages, and in turn your muscles are unable to function. 

What we do know is that In around 5 to 10% of people, ALS will be inherited. 

Risk factors that have been found include: 

  • Age (40-60 most at risk).
  • Heredity.
  • Sex (Prior to 65 more men develop this disease).
  • Genes. 

There are also some environmental factors as well: 

  • Smoking (More for post-menopausal women). 
  • Military service (many of those who served are at higher risk, with no certain reason why, it may be due to chemical, infections, exertion, or trauma that this is the case). 
  • Toxin exposure (Lead and other substances may be linked to ALS. However, no one specific chemical has been linked).

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