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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
(ALS; Lou Gehrig's Disease; Motor Neuron Disease)
|The Nervous System|
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
- Having a family member with ALS
- Being in the military or having other occupations with risk of exposure
- Having certain genetic mutations
- Progressive weakness in arms and legs
- Wrist or foot drop
- Difficulty holding things
- Frequent tripping while walking
- Muscle twitching
- Unpredictable and changing emotions
- Slurred speech
- Hoarseness and coughing
- Trouble chewing and swallowing, resulting in frequent choking and gagging
- Weight loss due to trouble eating
- Trouble breathing
- Excess salivation, drooling
- Blood tests
- Lumbar puncture
- Taking medications
- Working with therapists and joining a support group
- Participating in social activities
- Muscle relaxants reduce spasticity
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and other pain medications
- Atropine, scopolamine, botulinum toxin, antihistamine—To reduce heavy drooling
- Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications
- A combination of dextromethorphan and quinidine—To treat inappropriate laughter or crying
Other Types of Treatments
- Physical therapy—To reduce pain associated with muscle cramping and spasticity
- Respiratory care—In some cases, you may need to receive a mixture of air and oxygen from a machine. A device may also be used that helps your breathing muscles contract. If you cannot move enough air in and out of your lungs, you may need surgery to have a tube inserted into your airway.
- Nutritional care—Your doctor may make changes to your diet. In some cases, getting nutrition through tube feeding is needed.
- Speech therapy—Speech therapy may be used to optimize communication. Therapy may include exploring alternate methods of communication.
ALS Association http://www.alsa.org
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke http://www.ninds.nih.gov
ALS Society of British Columbia http://www.alsbc.ca
ALS Society of Canada http://www.als.ca
Aggarwal, SP, Zinman L, Simpson E, et al. Clinical trial testing lithium in ALS terminates early for futility. Lancet Neurol. 2010; 9(5): 481-488.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 4, 2014. Accessed February 12, 2014.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/amyotrophiclateralsclerosis/detail%5Famyotrophiclateralsclerosis.htm. Updated February 5, 2014. Accessed February 12, 2014.
FDA approves NeuRx Diaphragm Pacing System. ALS Association website. Available at: http://www.alsa.org/news/archive/fda-approves-neurx-diaphragm.html. Updated September 29, 2011. Accessed February 12, 2014.
NeuRx Diaphragm Pacing System. US Food & Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/DeviceApprovalsandClearances/Recently-ApprovedDevices/ucm278684.htm. Updated September 6, 2013. Accessed February 12, 2014.
Sathasivam S. Managing patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Eur J Intern Med. 2009;24:355-358.
Walling AD. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: Lou Gehrig's disease. Am Fam Physician. 1999;59:1489-1496.
4/17/2008 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Fornai F, Longone P, Cafaro L, et al. Lithium delays progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA . 2008;105:2052-2057.
1/14/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mateen FJ, Carone M, Sorenson EJ. Patients who survive 5 years or more with ALS in Olmsted County, 1925-2004. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2010;81(10):1144-1146.
- Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
- Review Date: 02/2014
- Update Date: 02/12/2014