Lou Gehrig’s disease is more formally called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). It was called Lou Gehrig’s after the popular baseball player who was diagnosed with it in the 1930s. It is a degenerative disease that attacks the motor neurons in the brain and the spinal cord. Some of the most common symptoms of the disease include the patient gradually losing control over their muscles and it becoming harder for them to walk, eat and even breathe. However, there are other signs to look out for as well.
Types of Lou Gehrig’s Disease
There are two types of ALS. Familial ALS (FALS) is caused by a defective gene that can be passed down from parents to their children. It consequently runs in families. If a parent has FALS, there is a 50 percent chance that any one of their children will inherit the condition.
Sporadic ALS is by far the more common type and occurs in about 95 percent of Lou Gehrig’s patients. It is called sporadic, for there is no known cause.
What are the Symptoms of Lou Gehrig’s Disease?
Lou Gehrig’s disease has a gradual onset, and the early symptoms all involve progressive but painless muscle weakness that tends to affect the extremities, speech and/or swallowing. Early symptoms of ALS can, therefore, include the following:
• Dropping things
• Abnormal fatigue of the legs and/or arms
• Muscle cramps
• Slurred speech
• Uncontrollable crying or laughing
• Stiff muscles
• Difficulty holding up one’s head
• Increasingly bad posture
Lou Gehrig’s disease may affect only one body part at first, like a single hand. As the condition worsens, it starts to affect other parts of the body. Advanced ALS can include:
• Less muscle mass
• Weaker muscles
• Trouble speaking
• Greater trouble chewing and swallowing
• Trouble breathing
The muscles controlling the heart, bladder and eyes usually remain unaffected. The muscles in the diaphragm that control breathing are affected, however, and the patient will need to be hooked up to a breathing machine for the rest of their life. Most patients survive three to five years after their diagnosis, but some patients can survive ten years or more. There is currently no cure.
Addressing the Symptoms of Lou Gehrig’s Disease
Stem cell therapy has shown promising results in some patients. The best way to learn more about this option is to schedule a consultation at Personalized Regenerative Medicine in San Clemente. Contact us today to book an appointment and get started.