Common symptoms and complications of ALS

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease is named after the famous baseball player who had the same name and was diagnosed with the illness in 1939.

ALS is a progressive nervous system disorder where the nerve cells and brain cells are damaged. A person suffering from ALS struggles with his or speech, simple limb movements, and something as effortless as swallowing and breathing.

Even today, doctors are doing their best to find the exact cause of the illness and the cure. ALS cannot be completely cured, and eventually, the patient loses his battle to the lethal disease.

If a person can detect the early symptoms and complication of ALS, then there is a high chance that he or she can improve their living with ALS.

Symptoms and complication of ALS
Every case of ALS is different from the other. The symptoms and complication of ALS too differ from person to person. This is because the symptoms depend on what area of the nervous system is affected.

Some of the early symptoms and complication of ALS include the following:

  • Difficulty in walking
  • Struggling to carry out daily activities
  • Finding it difficult to have a strong grasp while holding something as light as a pen
  • Constantly tripping and falling
  • Facing difficulty in speech
  • Weak limb muscles
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Not being able to hold one’s stance or posture
  • Muscle spasm

If a person has reached the last stage of ALS, then it gets worse for them. The person will experience extreme muscle weakness and experience a case of paralysis. ALS affects the lungs of the patient, so in most cases, the patient will become dependent on a ventilator for breathing.

Somewhere during the last stage, the patient might also lose his senses as his sensory neurons will be damaged by then. An ALS patient in their last few days will lose their sense of touch, smell, hearing, and taste.

It is observed that the early symptoms and complication of ALS is normally seen on one side of the body. This means that the patient might experience muscles weakness on only one side of the body. Eventually, the muscle twitching and spasm spreads out and reaches both the sides of the body.

Complication of ALS
When it comes to ALS, most of the complications are fatal and suck the life out of the agonized patient. As the illness progresses and time passes, in most cases, the condition of the patient further deteriorates.

  • Damaged lungs: During the final stage of the illness, the disease starts affecting the lungs and eventually the lungs of the patient stops working and gets paralyzed. This is when the patient needs to be put on a ventilatory support to breathe and survive.
  • Breathing issues: If the case is severe and the ventilator is not enough then the doctor might suggest a tracheostomy, which is a surgical procedure through which an incision is made at the front of the neck. Note that respiratory failure is one of the most common reasons for death in a case of ALS.
  • Other complications: ALS patients also struggle with speech problems which become worse as the illness progresses. In some rare cases, ALS can also lead to dementia as the patient experiences problem in decision making and reasoning.

Proper care and support from the loved ones can make the life of an ALS patient as comfortable as it can get.