What does Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Stand for and How Long do You Live With it?

July 04, 2022
Author : Keith Morris

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurological condition. This condition mainly affects the nerve cells within the brain and spinal cord, which compromises vital functions. The end result can be observed as poor muscle control in the body, which significantly deteriorates the overall quality of life and status of independence for the patient. This condition is also commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The condition is named after the first person diagnosed with the condition. Studies have shown few incidences where this condition was inherited from the long-lost gene pool in the family.

The initial manifestation of the condition commences with twitching in the muscles along with marked weakness. This may or may not be followed by slurring of speech. However, the delayed onset of the condition affects the various muscles of the body, including the muscles for speech. The fatality of the condition also compromises the breathing and eating function of the person affected by the condition. Therefore, this condition is rather life-threatening for an individual. The man's survival after the manifestation of the condition is two to five years. However, few cases have been reported where individuals were able to survive the past ten years of clinical establishment of the condition.

team members involved in the care of patients with ALS

How is ALS Initiated?

The condition’s symptoms often commence with the extremities and end with the impact on the central organs. The effects, once established in the feet, hands and limbs, can further spread to other parts of the body. The progression of the condition is marked by advanced destruction of nerve cells, which evidently compels the muscles to get weaker and weaker.

During the initial stages of clinical manifestation, the patients reflect upon minimal signs of stress and discomfort. These signs mimic the normal signs of a person dealing with any impairment or clinical condition. Pain is another symptom which is part of the disease process. However, it is also rarely observed in the initial stages of disease progression. In some patients, advanced disease progression can lead to a loss in bladder control and senses of the patient. However, this happens in the later stages and therefore, controlling and preventing the disease can pose a strong challenge for the physicians.

What are Some of the Common Symptoms of ALS?

Some of the clinical signs and symptoms are closely associated with the clinical diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Some of these common concerns include the following:

  • Poor capability in executing activities of daily living.
  • Poor control of balance and cognition might also lead to poor cognition.
  • Weakness in gripping objects and handling multi-tasks.
  • Slurring of speech and difficulty in swallowing and eating.
  • Increased incidents of muscle cramps and twitching in major joints of the body.
  • Poor control over the emotional display.
  • Poor mental health status and unclear decision-making capacity.

What are the Three Types of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)?

There are mainly three types of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) as listed below:

⮚ Sporadic Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

This is one of the most common forms of the condition. The majority of patients diagnosed with this condition suffer from a sporadic type of ALS. The aetiology of this condition is unknown, and thus, the prognosis is also quite poor.

⮚ Familial Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Very few cases have been reported for this type of ALS condition worldwide. Not much is known about this condition and its treatment. The condition of the patient can only be maintained from progressing further with effective treatment intervention customized as per the patient's healthcare needs.

⮚ Guamanian Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

As the name suggests, the condition is highly reported in the geographical regions of Guam and the trust of the Pacific territories. As the condition is region-specific, it has not been reported elsewhere.

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About the Author

Keith Morris

Keith Morris

Keith Morris is a certified nurse who retired as a registered nurse after participating in a WHO campaign in Geneva. He is dedicated to helping students score good grades in their nursing courses and are offered a chance to help the people and establish a better healthcare community across the globe. He works as a nurse at a local clinic with underprivileged children and provides assignment guidance to the students. Reflection writing, aged care, Gibbs reflective cycle, cardiac nursing, pathophysiology, etc. are a few to name from his area of dominance.

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