Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
“I nominate you to the ice bucket challenge!” These are words spoken by thousands of people all over Facebook. Up until recently many people had only heard about it or maybe even been nominated, but do not know what it is. There is little known about this disease, but It is important to learn about this disease whether you are nominated or not, because you will find out some valuable information about what ALS is and why people are doing the ice bucket challenge. If you do a little research, you will find out that the ice bucket challenge was intended to raise awareness on ALS and also to raise the funding to the disease. So what exactly is ALS, how are does this disease affect a person's life, and is there a cure for it?
“Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord," (2010). The reason why it is disease is also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” is because in the late 1930’s a baseball player for the New York Yankees who’s named Lou Gehrig was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and later died from that disease in 1941. Since he was one of the greats and it shocked the world to hear about him having the disease people began to refer the ALS to the as the disease that Lou Gehrig had and then it turned into Lou Gehrig’s disease. Now what happens in a normal healthy person’s body is that the motor neurons allows the brain to signal the muscles to move. However, a person who has ALS, their motor neurons start to die, and the brain is no longer able to signal the muscles to move anymore. Once the brain loses its ability to initiate and control muscle movement, a person will become paralyzed. There are more than 5,600 people affected by ALS each year and researchers are still trying to find the cause of this disease even though they think it is caused from a mutated gene. According from the ALS Association (2010), ALS affects people around 40-70 years of age and out of those people they have found that it affects more men than women. With that said, ALS can strike anyone including famous people, it can occur in any race, nor is it contagious. However, “Some have argued that the people who develop ALS are those who frequently engage in greater physical activity and have greater general fitness. Some exercise-focused occupations, including professional football and military services, have been associated with a higher incidence of ALS than have more sedentary occupations. A lower body-mass index also seems to be a common factor in ALS”, (Kiernan, M. C. 2014). It is also hard to diagnose a person with this disease since it mimics so many another diseases like Multiple Sclerosis. Even though 90% of people are the only people ever diagnosed with ALS in their family, there about 10% of cases are considered “familial ALS” (FALS). The good news is that there is a genetic test that people can to get see if they are a carrier of FALS. “In these cases, more than one person in the family has ALS, and sometimes family members have frontotemporal dementia as well. People with FALS often start having symptoms at earlier ages than in sporadic ALS.” (Hartzfeld, 2014)
Once a person receives the information that they have been diagnosed with this disease, their lives and daily activities tragically change. The diagnoses are a slow degenerating death sentence. As the neurons die, the muscle will become paralysis and normal activities like walking, dressing, and taking showers will become difficult. “Respiratory problems are a common cause of death among ALS patients. The risk of respiratory infections increase because of a weakened diaphragm and chest muscles.” (2001) Eventually, they things that normal healthy people take for granted such as talking to a friend, swallowing or chewing their food, and even breathing