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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or most commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease is a neurological condition that affects the motor neuron functions of the body which leads to difficulty in doing voluntary movements such as chewing, walking, and talking.
Lou Gehrig’s disease happens when the motor neurons which are responsible for sending signals to the voluntary muscles and the brain deteriorate or die.
Cause of Lou Gehrig’s disease
While the cause of ALS is unknown, there are several risk factors that can lead to the development of Lou Gehrig’s disease which include age, gender, and genetics.
According to ninds.nih.gov, ALS can occur in people of all ages, however, people who are between ages 55 and 75 have an increased risk of developing ALS. Furthermore, men are more prone to developing ALS. It is also said that race and genes can affect the development of Lou Gehrig’s disease with Caucasians and non-Hispanic people developing ALS more commonly.
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Lou Gehrig’s disease may also be inherited. In fact, 5 to 10 percent of all cases of ALS are said to be a caused by genetic predisposition. Even if only one parent carries the gene, it may still be passed on to their child.
Symptoms of Lou Gehrig’s disease
Symptoms of ALS are usually left undetected as it can be subtle at the onset. However, as the condition worsens, the symptoms increasingly become more obvious and may cause the person enough concern to visit a doctor.
Among the early symptoms of Lou Gehrig’s disease include muscle twitching in the arm, leg, or shoulder; muscle cramps; muscle stiffness; muscle weakness; slurred speech; and difficulty in chewing.
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Lou Gehrig’s disease treatment
Currently, there is no cure for ALS. However, there are medications and treatment methods that can be done to help slow down the development of the disease and control its symptoms.
Doctors may prescribe drugs such as riluzole and edaravone which are said to be beneficial in reducing damage to the motor neurons as well as in slowing down the symptoms of ALS. Furthermore, doctors may suggest therapies and treatments such as physical therapies, speech therapies, and breathing support to help regain normalcy in life.
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Stephen Hawking and Lou Gehrig’s disease
Stephen Hawking, a renowned physicist and cosmologist, is the most popular person to develop Lou Gehrig’s disease. Hawking had been diagnosed with ALS during early adulthood and had to live through paralysis and speech problems for most of his adult life. Using a speech-generating device, he was able to communicate with people and lecture about his discoveries in spite of his condition.
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What is Parkinson's disease?
Similarly to ALS, Parkinson's disease is a disorder that affects movement and speech of a person and which can worsen over time. This progressive disorder causes tremors, loss of voluntary movements, and slurred speech over time.
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There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, however, there are medications that doctors may prescribe to help control its symptoms.