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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: initial symptoms and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is the most common of the diseases of the motor neuronal system. It is a rare disease that affects one in every 50,000 people in Spain. Currently, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has no cure and has a life expectancy of between two to five years once the first symptoms begin to appear.

Do you want to know what are the first signs of this disease? In the following FastlyHealarticle we will talk to you about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: initial symptoms , as well as treatments, palliative or not, to improve the way in which the patient passes the disease.

What is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis?

The amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease idiopathic human motor system is fatal. The French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot described it in 1874, which is why it has also been called Charcot’s disease.

This pathology is the most common degenerative disease of the motor neuron system. Motor neurons are cells that extend from the brain to the spinal cord and muscles throughout the body, that is, they communicate through nerve impulses throughout this system, among other things, allowing the individual to move.

When someone has ALS, both the upper motor neurons and the lower motor neurons degenerate or die, and stop sending messages to the muscles . Unable to function, the muscles gradually weaken, begin to contract (called fasciculations), and disappear (atrophy). Eventually the brain loses its ability to initiate and control voluntary movements.

A high percentage of people with ALS die from failure of the respiratory system . This happens when the impairment of muscle capacity reaches a point that prevents the respiratory muscles from being used, eventually causing the patient to die of respiratory failure .

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: initial symptoms

The onset of ALS can be so subtle that symptoms are overlooked, but gradually they develop into more obvious atrophy or weakness that makes the disease more visible to specialists. The first symptoms of ALS are muscle stiffness and loss of strength , something that can be confused with simple fatigue or poor posture. However, the ability to control muscle is gradually lost, causing loss of strength, the ability to speak, eat, even breathe or move.

The initial symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are as follows:

  • Muscle spasms (fasciculations) in the upper and lower extremities.
  • Tense and stiff muscles (spasticity).
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing.
  • Muscle cramps .
  • He speaks slurred and nasal.

On average, the first sign of ALS can be seen in one hand or one arm. These people tend to experience difficulties in their daily tasks , such as writing or tying their shoelaces. In other cases, the disease attacks one of the legs, causing these people to experience discomfort when walking. Other individuals first notice speech or swallowing problems.

Regardless of where symptoms first appear, muscle weakness and atrophy spread to other parts of the body as the disease progresses.

ALS patients often have difficulty eating, as they have difficulty chewing and swallowing food. They also have a higher caloric intake than that of a person who does not suffer from the disease. For this reason, patients with ALS lose weight rapidly , even becoming malnourished.

A minority group of patients may have speech difficulties or the full use of their mental faculties. There are indications that some may lose their cognitive abilities as the illness progresses.

Over time, inevitably people with ALS, will lose breathing capacity and will end up being assisted by an artificial respirator. Likewise, in patients with ALS, respiratory tract infections become recurrent , already in the last stage of the disease. Cramps become common in ALS sufferers and some of them will develop nerve injuries, which cause a lot of pain.

Treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a fatal disease, so treatment is only a palliative that seeks to slow the progress of the disease and give the patient some comfort.

ALS generates a large number of physical, emotional and family alterations, so it is necessary for a multidisciplinary team to take charge to make the disease more bearable and extend the life of the patient as long as possible in the best possible conditions.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: initial symptoms , we recommend that you enter our Brain and nerves category .

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