Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig disease, is a disorder that affects the part of the central nervous system which is responsible for movement. Many people are unfamiliar with the proper name for this disorder. However, some are familiar with the famous baseball player who died from the condition. After his death, many began referring to this deadly disorder as Lou Gehrig disease.
Lou Gehrig disease is a very serious condition that ultimately leads to paralysis and death. Classified as a motor neuron disease, this disorder attacks the nerves that control movement. Ordinarily, neurons send movement messages from the brain to other parts of body. However, once the neurons die and stop sending messages, persons become unable to control their movements.
In some instances, only the upper or lower neurons are affected. Nonetheless, it is possible for those living with Lou Gehrig disease to quickly lose controllable movement of their upper and lower body.
Symptoms of Lou Gehrig Disease
Initially, symptoms are very vague. Thus, many patients do not seek medical treatment. If they do, doctors likely overlook the condition until symptoms become more pronounced. Common symptoms of Lou Gehrig disease include:
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Difficulty standing or walking
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Frequently tripping or falling
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Lacking fine motor skills – writing, tying shoestrings, etc.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Chewing problems
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Difficulty swallowing
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Muscle weakness
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Muscle tightness
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Muscle cramps
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Body twitching
Progression of Lou Gehrig Disease
Patients diagnosed with Lou Gehrig disease will follow different patterns. However, the majority of patients mark their initial symptom as the inability to control one arm or leg. With loss of movement in the legs, patients may fall quite often or have a difficult time running. When the arms are affected, patients may have a difficult time driving or performing easy tasks.
As the disease progresses, muscle weakness will spread to every area of the body. In time, patients will have trouble speaking and experience difficulty swallowing. Once the disease progresses to the chest muscles, patients are unable to breath on their own. Unfortunately, patients become paralyzed when their muscles can no longer move. On average, complete paralysis occurs within five years from the beginning of symptoms.
Outlook forLou Gehrig Disease
Although Lou Gehrig disease affects a person’s ability to control movement and carry out everyday activities, this disease does not impair a patient’s memory or intelligence. Also, patients maintain their visual and touch senses. Furthermore, they will also maintain control of their bowel and bladder function. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Lou Gehrig disease.
Who’s at Risk?
Lou Gehrig is considered a rare disease, affecting approximately 20,000 in the United States. Moreover, this disease affects persons of all ages and ethnic groups. On average, Lou Gehrig disease tends to affects males more than females; and the onset of symptoms is generally between the age of 40 and 60 years old.