ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Boosts Lou Gehrig's Disease Awareness

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The recent flurry of participants in the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Ice Bucket Challenge has not only raised financial donations, but also has raised awareness of this progressive, degenerative disease of the brain and spinal cord. The frenzy of excitement about the charitable donations has greatly benefitted the ALS Association and has been magnified by the use of social media including Twitter and Facebook.

What are symptoms of ALS?

ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease in memory of the famous baseball player who died from the illness. The disease is characterized by degeneration of specialized nerves in the brain and spinal cord. The result is progressive muscle weakness and atrophy, and ultimately death. Early symptoms of ALS are weakness and speech problems. Eventually there is loss of strength in the extremities and hands. This causes difficulty walking, and stumbling or tripping. Weakness of the muscles of swallowing causes choking and drooling.

What causes ALS?

The cause of ALS is not known. There is no cure or treatment that stops the progressive illness, but there are some medications in clinical trials that can slow its progression. It is hoped that research backed by funding from groups such as the ALS Association will lead to more accurate treatments and eventual cure of ALS.

Meanwhile, the world of charities has been watching with interest as the ALS Association enjoys the benefits of the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge. For more about ALS, the ALS Association, and the Ice Bucket Challenge, visit the ALS Association website.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/22/2014

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