What is ALS?
ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. There is no cure for ALS yet.
Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. They govern voluntary movements and muscle control.
ALS causes these motor neurons to degenerate over time until they eventually die. When the motor neurons die, the brain can no longer initiate and control muscle movement. When voluntary muscle action is progressively affected, people may lose the ability to speak, eat, move and breathe.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
ALS is a disease that typically involves a gradual onset. The initial symptoms of ALS can be quite varied. One person may have trouble grasping a pen or lifting a coffee cup, while another may experience a change in vocal pitch when speaking.
The rate at which ALS progresses can be quite variable, as well. Although the mean survival time with ALS is two to five years, some people live five years, 10 years or even longer.
Who Gets ALS?
Every 90 minutes, someone is diagnosed with the disease, and someone passes away from it.
Most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 70, with an average age of 55 at the time of diagnosis. However, cases of the disease do occur in people in their twenties and thirties.
ALS is 20% more common in men than women. However, with increasing age, the incidence of ALS is more equal between men and women.
For more information go to als.org/understanding-als
Source: ALS ASSOCIATION