Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease) is a neurological disease that progresses rapidly. The disease attacks the nerve cells responsible for the control of voluntary muscles. Early symptoms include cramping, twitching, or stiffness of the muscles; slurred nasal speech; difficulty swallowing or chewing, and muscle weakness in an arm or leg. Currently, the cause of ALS is not known. ALS is a fatal disease. No cure has been found for ALS, however, the drug riluzole (Rilutek) is FDA approved, and this drug reduces the damage to motor neurons by decreasing the release of glutamate. Read more: ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) Symptoms, Causes, Life Expectancy Article
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Related Disease Conditions
Genetic Diseases (Disorder Definition, Types, and Examples)
The definition of a genetic disease is a disorder or condition caused by abnormalities in a person's genome. Some types of genetic inheritance include single inheritance, including cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, Marfan syndrome, and hemochromatosis. Other types of genetic diseases include multifactorial inheritance. Still other types of genetic diseases include chromosome abnormalities (for example, Turner syndrome, and Klinefelter syndrome), and mitochondrial inheritance (for example, epilepsy and dementia).
Pneumonia is inflammation of the lungs caused by fungi, bacteria, or viruses. Symptoms and signs include cough, fever, shortness of breath, and chills. Antibiotics treat pneumonia, and the choice of the antibiotic depends upon the cause of the infection.
Muscle spasms are involuntary muscle contractions that come on suddenly and are usually quite painful. Dehydration, doing strenuous exercise in a hot environment, prolonged muscle use, and certain diseases of the nervous system may cause muscle spasms. Symptoms and signs of a muscle spasm include an acute onset of pain and a possible bulge seen or felt beneath the skin where the muscle is located. Gently stretching the muscle usually resolves a muscle spasm.
Liver (Anatomy and Function)
The liver is the largest gland and organ in the body. There are a variety of liver diseases caused by liver inflammation, scarring of the liver, infection of the liver, gallstones, cancer, toxins, genetic diseases, and blood flow problems. Symptoms of liver disease generally do not occur until the liver disease is advanced. Some symptoms of liver disease include jaundice, nausea and vomiting, easy bruising, bleeding excessively, fatigue, weakness, weight loss, shortness of breath, leg swelling, impotence, and confusion. Treatment of diseases of the liver depends on the cause.
Constipation is defined medically as fewer than three stools per week and severe constipation as less than one stool per week. Constipation usually is caused by the slow movement of stool through the colon. There are many causes of constipation including medications, poor bowel habits, low fiber diets, laxative abuse, and hormonal disorders, and diseases primarily of other parts of the body that also affect the colon.
Muscle cramps are involuntarily and forcibly contracted muscles that do not relax. Extremely common, any muscles that have voluntary control, including some organs, are subject to cramp. Since there is such variety in the types of muscle cramps that can occur, many causes and preventative medications are known. Stretching is the most common way to stop or prevent most muscle cramps.
Parkinson's disease is a slowly progressive neurological disease characterized by a fixed inexpressive face, a tremor at rest, slowing of voluntary movements, a gait with short accelerating steps, peculiar posture and muscle weakness, caused by degeneration of an area of the brain called the basal ganglia, and by low production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Most patients are over 50, but at least 10 percent are under 40.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Life Expectancy
Multiple sclerosis or MS is an autoimmune disorder in which brain and spinal cord nerve cells become demyelinated. This damage results in symptoms that may include numbness, weakness, vertigo, paralysis, and involuntary muscle contractions. Different forms of MS can follow variable courses from relatively benign to life-threatening. MS is treated with disease-modifying therapies. Some MS symptoms can be treated with medications.
Peripheral neuropathy is a problem with the functioning of the nerves outside of the spinal cord. Symptoms may include numbness, weakness, burning pain (especially at night), and loss of reflexes. Possible causes may include carpel tunnel syndrome, shingles, vitamin or nutritional deficiencies, and illnesses like diabetes, syphilis, AIDS, and kidney failure. Peripheral neuropathy is diagnosed with exams and tests. Treatment for the condition depends on the cause. Usually, the prognosis for peripheral neuropathy is good if the cause can be successfully treated or prevented.
Depression is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. The principal types of depression are major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disease (also called manic-depressive disease).
Dementia is defined as a significant loss of intellectual abilities such as memory capacity, severe enough to interfere with social or occupational functioning. There are several different types of dementia, including cortical, subcortical, progressive, primary, and secondary dementias. Other conditions and medication reactions can also cause dementia. Dementia is diagnosed based on a certain set of criteria. Treatment for dementia is generally focused on the symptoms of the disease.
Stem cells are referred to as undifferentiated cells because they have not yet committed to a developmental path to form specific organ tissue. There are a variety of stem cell types, including embryonic, fetal, adult peripheral blood, umbilical cord, and induced pluripotent stem cells. Researchers are currently examining the use of stem cells for use in many conditions, including heart disease, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injury, diabetes mellitus, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, arthritis, and burns.
Sleep Disorders (How to Get a Good Night's Sleep)
A number of vital tasks carried out during sleep help maintain good health and enable people to function at their best. Sleep needs vary from individual to individual and change throughout your life. The National Institutes of Health recommend about 7-9 hours of sleep each night for older, school-aged children, teens, and most average adults; 10-12 for preschool-aged children; and 16-18 hours for newborns. There are two stages of sleep; 1) REM sleep (rapid-eye movement), and 2) NREM sleep (non-rapid-eye movement). The side effects of lack of sleep or insomnia include: Irritability Tiredness Feeling sleepy during the day Concentration or memory problems Lack of sleep and insomnia can be caused by medical conditions or diseases, medications, stress, or pain. The treatment for lack of sleep and insomnia depends upon the cause.
A herniated disc may be caused by injury or degeneration from age. Symptoms depend on the location of the herniation and whether nerve tissue is being irritated. An MRI or CT scan is performed to diagnose a herniated disc. Treatment may involve physical therapy, cortisone injection, pain medications, anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, and surgery.
Swallowing Problems (Dysphagia)
Dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing, swallowing problems. Dysphagia is due to problems in nerve or muscle control. It is common, for example, after a stroke. Dysphagia compromises nutrition and hydration and may lead to aspiration pneumonia and dehydration.
Tumor grade is a system used to classify cancer cells in how likely the tumor is to grow and how abnormal they look under a microscope. Tumor grade is not the same as tumor stage. A biopsy is taken to determine if the tumor is benign (non cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
Alzheimer's disease is a common cause of dementia. Symptoms and warning signs of Alzheimer's disease include memory loss, difficulty performing familiar tasks, disorientation to time and place, misplacing things, and more. The biggest risk factor for Alzheimer's disease is increased age. Treatment for Alzheimer's is often targeted toward decreasing the symptoms and progression of the disease.
Lyme disease is a bacterial illness, which is spread by ticks when they bite the skin. Initially the disease affects the skin causing a reddish rash associated with flu-like symptoms. It takes weeks to months after the initial redness of the skin for its effects to spread throughout the body. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics. Lyme disease can be prevented by using tick avoidance techniques.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection left untreated causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Still incurable, AIDS describes immune system collapse that opens the way for opportunistic infections and cancers to kill the patient. Early symptoms and signs of HIV infection include flu-like symptoms and fungal infections, but some people may not show any symptoms for years. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the standard treatment for HIV infection. These combination drug regimens have made HIV much less deadly, but a cure or vaccine for the pandemic remains out of reach. HIV is usually transmitted through sexual contact or sharing IV drug needles, but can also infect someone through contact with infected blood. Sexual abstinence, safe sex practices, quitting IV drugs (or at least using clean needles), and proper safety equipment by clinicians and first responders can drastically reduce transmission rates for HIV/AIDS.
Hospice is a service that offers support, resources, and assistance to terminally ill patients and their families. In such late stages of diseases, especially when there is "nothing left to do," hospice can offer help for patients and families. There are many aspects of a patient's well-being that can be addressed. Hospice can play a key role in managing physical symptoms of a disease (palliative care) and supporting patients and families emotionally and spiritually.
Post-polio syndrome (PPS) is a group of signs and symptoms that show up two to four decades after the initial polio infection. Symptoms of PPS include fatigue, pain, sleep disorders, muscle twitching, gastrointestinal problems, and weakness. Treatment focuses on slowing down to conserve energy and relieving symptoms with pain relievers.
Your health care provider may refer you to a genetic professional. Universities and medical centers also often have affiliated genetic professionals, or can provide referrals to a genetic professional or genetics clinic. Genetic counseling provides patients and family members the tools to make the right choice in regard to test for a disease or condition.
Local ResourcesFind a local Neurologist in your town
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Shortness of Breath (Dyspnea)
- Fatigue, Tiredness, and Lethargy
- Difficulty With Speech
- Loss of Speech
- How to Choose a Doctor
- Doctor: Checklist to Take To Your Doctor's Appointment
- Doctor: Getting the Most from Your Doctor's Appointment
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Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
- New Drug Could Extend Life for People With ALS
- Summer's Toxic Algae Blooms: A Growing Threat to Health?
- Caring for Relatives With ALS Almost a Full-Time Job for Youth: Study
- Man Who Inspired Ice Bucket Challenge Dies
- Are Soccer Pros at Higher Risk for ALS?
- 'Mind-Reading' AI Turns Thoughts Into Spoken Words
- ALS Affects the Mind, Not Just the Body
- Extreme Exercisers May Have Higher Odds for ALS
- Stephen Hawking Dies at Age 76
- Diesel Exhaust Might Raise Truckers' Odds for ALS
- Sam Shepard Dead at 73
- White Collar Workers at Higher Odds of Death From ALS, Parkinson's
- Rogue Genes May Cause Some ALS Cases
- FDA Approves 1st New Drug for ALS in Decades
- Scientists Extend Lives of Mice With ALS
- Former NFL player Dwight Clark Has ALS
- Brain Chip Helps Paralyzed 'Type' With Their Mind
- Does Mercury in Fish Play a Role in ALS?
- Brain Scans Let 'Locked-In' ALS Patients Communicate
- Was Football Safer Back in the Day?
- Brain Implant Lets 'Locked-In' ALS Patient Communicate
- More Years Playing Football, Greater Risk of Brain Disease: Study
- Smoking Tied to Shorter Survival With ALS
- Better Detection Key to Rising ALS Cases in U.S.
- 'Ice Bucket Challenge' Funds a Boon to ALS Research
- Hundreds of U.S. Clinics Sell Unapproved Stem Cell 'Therapies'
- Stem Cells Deemed Safe for ALS Patients
- Pesticides Linked to Raised Risk of ALS
- Mouse Study Shows Cocaine Ravages Brain Cells
- Formaldehyde in Embalming Fluid May Raise ALS Risk for Funeral Directors
- Could Type 2 Diabetes Shield Against ALS?
- Mouse Study Suggests Brain Is Damaged Early in Lou Gehrig's Disease
- Common Blood Pressure Drug May Lower Risk For Lou Gehrig's Disease: Study
- Technology Helps 'Locked-In' Stroke Patient Communicate
- Patients Hope Ice Bucket Challenge Keeps Flowing
- ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Blows Up Social Media
- Health Highlights: Aug. 18, 2014
- Blood Test Might Help Predict Survival With Lou Gehrig's Disease
- Researchers Spot Potential New Culprit Behind Alzheimer's
- Omega-3s in Diet May Help Ward Off Lou Gehrig's Disease
- Group Doctor Visits May Benefit Muscle Disorder Patients
- Scientists Make Gene Discovery in Lou Gehrig's Disease
- Early Signs That High-Calorie Diet May Help With Lou Gehrig's Disease
- NIH, NFL Team Up to Take On Concussion Research
- Newly Created Rats Designed to Speed Alzheimer's Research
- Newly Created Rats Designed to Speed Alzheimer's Research
- Can Brightly Colored Fruits, Veggies Protect Against ALS?
- Scientists ID Gene That Shows Progression in ALS Patients
- NFL Players at Higher Risk of Brain Diseases
- Writing Using the Eyes Might Help Paralyzed Communicate
- Toxins Afloat in Shark Fin Soup?
- Health Highlights: Feb. 1, 2012
- Scientists Use Brain Waves to Eavesdrop on the Mind
- Health Highlights: Jan. 10, 2012
Brain and Nervous System Resources
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