Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Definition
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis definition is a disorder that attacks the motor nerves in the brain and spine. Motor nerves function to deliver electrical nerve signals that control muscle movement. Damage to the motor nerves results in the body losing the ability to move the muscles, so the muscles become paralyzed and then shrink.
Motor nerves are divided into two parts, the upper motor neuron (UMN), which sends messages from the brain to the spinal cord, and the lower motor neuron (LMN) that sends messages from the spinal cord to the muscles .
In Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) disease, there is hardening and shrinking of motor nerves. As a result, nerve electrical signals can not be transmitted and the muscles do not get orders to move, resulting in paralysis, difficulty chewing, swallowing, talking, or even breathing.
There are two types of ALS, namely:
- Sporadic ALS. This condition is experienced by 95 percent of people with Lou Gehrig’s disease for no apparent reason.
- Familial ALS. This condition occurs because of the influence of genetic abnormalities that are inherited. Parents who suffer from ALS, have the potential to reduce the disease to their children.
- Symptoms of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Early signs of Lou Gehrig’s disease usually begin from the hands, then to the legs, and spread to other parts of the body. Symptoms consist of:
- Hands feel weak and often drop the goods.
- Weak on the legs and feet, so often fall or trip.
- Difficult to hold your head.
- Difficult to maintain body position.
- Speech is not clear.
- Difficult to swallow.
- Difficult to walk and perform normal daily activities.
Causes of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Not yet known exactly what causes damage to nerve cells in this disease. Approximately 10 percent of cases occur, found a genetic mutation that causes the formation of a protein that is damaging nerve cells.
There are several other factors that are also suspected to be the cause of cell damage in ALS, including:
- Excess glutamate. Glutamate is a chemical that acts as a sender of messages to or from the brain and nerves. However, if there is accumulation of glutamate around the nerve cells can cause damage to the nerves.
- Immune system disorders. Under certain conditions, one’s immune system actually attacks healthy cells in the body and causes damage to nerve cells.
- Disorders of the mitochondria. Mitochondria are the places of energy formation in cells. Disorders in this energy determination can damage nerve cells, as well as accelerate the deterioration of diseases that may be caused by other factors.
- Oxidative stress. Excessive free radical levels will cause oxidative stress, and cause damage to various body cells.
Risk Factors of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
There are several factors that can increase the risk of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) disease, including:
- Age. The results of the study found that people with age 40-60 years are at increased risk of ALS disease.
- Gender. A 65-year-old man is at risk for Lou Gehrig’s disease compared to women of the same age.
- Heredity. People with ALS disease potentially transmit this disease to their children with a percentage of 50 percent.
- Genetics. The study found a person with a particular gene type has the potential to experience ALS disease.
- Smoke. Cigarettes can trigger the emergence of ALS disease, especially in menopausal women.
- Exposure to toxic chemicals. Continuous exposure to toxic chemicals can lead to ALS disease.
Diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is difficult to diagnose early because signs and symptoms are similar to other neurological disorders. To establish the diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease, the following tests can be performed:
- Electromyogram (EMG), to evaluate the electrical activity of the muscles.
- MRI examination, to see which nervous system is problematic.
- Examination of blood and urine, to determine the health condition of patients in general, the presence of genetic disorders, or other factors.
- Examination of nerve conducting velocity, to assess the function of the motor nerves of the body.
- Muscle biopsy sample, to see muscle abnormalities.
- Spinal tap, to examine brain fluid samples taken through the spine.
Treatment of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Treatment is done to inhibit the progression of the disease and prevent complications. Drugs can also be given to relieve symptoms, such as pain, cramps, muscle spasms, constipation, salivation and excessive sputum, sleep disorders, and depression.
In addition, doctors will advise patients to undergo a series of therapies consisting of:
- Respiratory therapy. If weakness has occurred in the respiratory muscles, then the breathing will be assisted by the machine, especially at bedtime.
- Physical therapy. To maintain body fitness, heart health, and increase muscle strength.
- Speech therapy. Helping the patient to be able to communicate well (especially verbal) by teaching certain techniques.
- Occupational therapy. Helping the patient perform daily routine activities with the help of special tools and techniques, to maintain the functional ability and independence of patients.
- Other additional handling that can be given is a regulation of nutrition intake. It is recommended that the patient be given food in a form that is easy to swallow, and contains adequate nutrition.
Complications of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
- Difficulty speaking. People with als disease often have difficulty speaking. The spoken words are vague and incomprehensible.
- Respiratory disorders. Long-term ALS disease can paralyze the respiratory muscles.
- Eating disorders. Muscle damage used to chew and swallow food causes malanutrisi and dehydration in people with ALS disease.
- Dementia. Many people with ALS have dementia, with symptoms of memory decline and decision-making ability.