First Choice Neurology

ALS Awareness Month – Know the Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

May marks an important time for raising awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. ALS Awareness Month serves as a platform to educate the public about the impact of this devastating condition, honor those affected by ALS, and support ongoing efforts to advance research and improve patient care.

You may remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a social media campaign that went viral in 2014 to raise awareness and fundraise for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The challenge was started by three younger guys with ALS, who encouraged people to dump ice water on their heads and donate to ALS organizations. And the donations poured in. It funded the work that led to the discovery of five new genes associated with ALS and novel drug therapies.

What is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, leading to muscle weakness, paralysis, and ultimately, respiratory failure. Despite its devastating effects, advancements in research and treatment offer hope for those living with ALS.

amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

Symptoms of ALS

ALS typically begins with muscle weakness or stiffness, which progressively worsens over time. Common symptoms include muscle cramps, twitching, difficulty speaking, swallowing, and breathing, as well as muscle weakness in the hands, legs, and feet. As the disease advances, individuals may experience paralysis and ultimately lose the ability to move, speak, eat, and breathe independently.

What Causes Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis?

The exact cause of ALS remains unknown, although genetic and environmental factors are believed to play a role. Approximately 5-10% of ALS cases are inherited, with mutations in genes such as C9orf72, SOD1, and FUS implicated in familial ALS. However, the majority of cases occur sporadically, with no clear genetic predisposition. Environmental factors such as exposure to toxins or trauma may also contribute to the development of ALS, though more research is needed to fully understand these associations.

ALS Treatments

While there is currently no cure for ALS, treatment focuses on managing symptoms, improving quality of life, and slowing disease progression. This multidisciplinary approach may include physical medicine & rehabilitation to manage muscle cramps, spasticity, and excess saliva production, as well as physical therapy to maintain mobility and prevent muscle atrophy. Speech therapy and assistive devices can help individuals communicate more effectively as speech and swallowing abilities decline.

In recent years, advances in medical technology have led to the development of novel treatments for ALS, such as the use of Riluzole and Radicava to slow disease progression. Additionally, emerging therapies such as gene therapy and stem cell transplantation hold promise for future interventions aimed at halting or reversing the course of the disease.

First Choice Neurology is Committed to Patient Care

First Choice Neurology is dedicated to providing compassionate, comprehensive care for patients living with ALS. With a team of highly skilled neurologists, First Choice Neurology offers state-of-the-art diagnostic services, personalized treatment plans, and ongoing support for ALS patients and their families. From early intervention and symptom management to advanced therapies and clinical trials, First Choice Neurology is committed to improving outcomes and enhancing quality of life for individuals affected by ALS.

For those living outside of Florida, First Choice Neurology offers an innovative online chat service through Neuro2Go.com, to discuss a neurological condition from the comfort of your home. Whether you have questions about ALS symptoms, treatment options, or are seeking guidance on a new neurologic concern, the experienced team at First Choice Neurology is here to help.

First Choice Neurology has more than 60 Care Centers in multiple Florida counties and services at 45+ major hospitals. With a focus on patient-centered care and cutting-edge treatments, First Choice Neurology is helping to lead the way in the fight against ALS, offering hope and support to individuals and families affected by this devastating disease. 

 

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