Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Friday, September 04, 2015

Each year, an estimated 5,600 Americans develop Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, often called ALS or Lou Gehrigs disease. Dr. Edward Hill tells us more about this disease in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrigs disease, is a progressive wasting away of motor neuron nerve cells of the brain and spinal column. The motor neurons control the muscles that allow voluntary movement.

ALS is a progressive, disabling and usually fatal disease. Walking, speaking, eating, swallowing and even breathing become more difficult with time.

The first sign of ALS is weakness in one leg, one hand, the face or the tongue. Other problems may include increasing clumsiness and difficulty performing tasks that require precise movements of the fingers and hands. Muscle twitching may also occur.

Respiratory problems are the most common serious complication of ALS. Pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, lung failure and heart failure are the most common causes of death among people with ALS. In most cases, death will occur within three to six years after symptoms begin, although some people live for many years.

While there is no cure for ALS, treatment can help you maintain independence, manage symptoms and avoid complications for as long as possible.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.