ALS is a paralysis that breaks down the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that activate the willpowered muscles. The cause is not known and the disease cannot be cured, but some of the problems can be treated.
Vision or hearing is never affected by ALS and usually features such as feeling and ability to hold tight. Some may have impaired cognitive ability with, for example, language impairment.
ALS means amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and the disease is somewhat more common in men.
Those who have ALS sooner or later get respiratory failure and die. This usually occurs within two to four years after the illness, but some live much longer.
Symptoms of ALS
ALS can begin with several types of symptoms. The problems look different in different people.
Paralysis usually begins in a part of the body. The most common form is so-called classic ALS, where the weakness begins in one foot or in one hand. The paralysis then spreads, sooner or later to reach the respiratory muscles. There is also another form, called bulbar paresis, when the speech is affected first and then the swallowing function.
At ALS, you usually get muscle loss in the area that is weakened.
When should I seek care?
If you have problems similar to ALS or any other neurological disease, you should contact a health care center first. The doctor there can, if necessary, write a referral to a neurologist.
You can seek care at any healthcare center you want throughout the country. You also have the opportunity to have a regular doctor’s contact at the health center.
You have the right to understand
In order for you to be able to participate in your care and make decisions, it is important that you understand the information you receive from the healthcare staff. Ask questions if you don’t understand. You can also ask for information printed so that you can read it peacefully.
The most important factor in determining the diagnosis is an examination of the nervous system functions performed by a neurology specialist.
In case of suspected ALS, the diagnosis is confirmed by EMG, electromyography. EMG is a study done in the neurophysiological laboratory and measures the effect of nerve cells on muscle fibers.
To exclude certain other diseases, such as neuroborreliosis or neuroinflammation, the spinal cord fluid is examined by lumbar puncture . The brain and spinal cord are also examined with a magnetic camera, MRT .
Treatment of ALS
ALS cannot be cured, but there is a drug that contains the active substance riluzole, which may prolong survival somewhat. Studies are ongoing around the world to find additional treatment that can slow down the progression of disease.
Some neurological clinics have specialized ALS teams with occupational therapist, dietician, physiotherapist, curator, speech therapist, physician and coordinating nurse.
The Neuro Association is a non-profit organization specializing in neurology that offers counseling and support to its members.