ALS is one of the most common neuromuscular diseases worldwide, and people of all races and ethnic backgrounds are affected.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, sometimes called Lou Gehrig's Disease, or Maladie de Charcot) is a progressive, invariably fatal, neurodegenerative disease caused by the degeneration of motor neurons, the nerve cells in the central nervous system that control voluntary muscle movement. Between 1 to 2 people per 100,000 develop Lou Gehrig's Disease each year. ALS most commonly strikes people between 40 and 60 years of age, but younger and older people can also develop the disease.
Scientists have not found a definitive cause for Lou Gehrig's Disease but the onset of the disease can be linked to a variety of risk factors. It is believed that one or more of the following factors are responsible for the majority of Lou Gehrig's Disease cases. Researchers suspect a virus, exposure to neurotoxins or heavy metals, DNA defects, immune system abnormalities, and enzyme abnormalities as the leading causes of the disease.
Lou Gehrig's Disease Symptoms:
Males are affected slightly more often than women, and the onset of ALS may be so subtle that the symptoms are frequently overlooked. The earliest symptoms of Lou Gehrig's Disease may include:
- Tripping and falling
- Hand weakness or clumsiness
- Weakness in your leg, feet or ankles
- Slurred speech or trouble swallowing
- Difficulty walking or doing your normal daily activities
- Difficulty holding your head up or keeping good posture
- Muscle cramps and twitching in your arms, shoulders and tongue
- Eventually, ALS weakens muscles, including muscles used for breathing, until they become paralyzed.
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