ALS is a rare, progressive, and fatal disease that usually affects people between the ages of 40-70. For people with ALS, nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that normally help control muscle function become impaired. These nerves—known as motor neurons—degenerate and eventually die, leading to loss of muscle function throughout the body.
ALS can affect people differently. Its early signs and symptoms often include weakness in the limbs, muscle cramping and twitching, labored speech and breathing, and difficulty swallowing. These symptoms spread and worsen as ALS progresses, eventually resulting in paralysis and respiratory failure.
Experts believe that ALS may be caused by a combination of genetics and environmental or lifestyle factors. In recent years, researchers have expanded their understanding of the link between genetics and ALS.
Although the number of people living with ALS may seem small, the impact of the disease is not. ALS not only impacts those living with it, but also their families, caregivers and even future generations.
The process of diagnosing ALS can be a lengthy one. Click on the link below and ﬁnd out more about the steps your doctor may take to reach a diagnosis.
When you were diagnosed, your doctor may have described your ALS as being either familial ALS (fALS)—where there is a known family history of the disease—or sporadic ALS (sALS), where there is no known family history of the disease.
The link between genetic mutations and familial ALS (fALS) has been established, but even seemingly sporadic ALS (sALS) could have a genetic component. How would you know whether you have a mutation associated with genetic ALS?
When you’ve been diagnosed with ALS, you may have many questions about the disease. Here are some fast facts to help you gain a better understanding of ALS and to prepare you for when you discuss ALS with your doctor.