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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a nervous system disease that attacks nerve cells called neurons in your brain and spinal cord. These neurons transmit messages from your brain and spinal cord to your voluntary muscles - the ones you can control, like in your arms and legs. At first, this causes mild muscle problems. Some people notice
- Trouble walking or running
- Trouble writing
- Speech problems
Eventually, you lose your strength and cannot move. When muscles in your chest fail, you cannot breathe. A breathing machine can help, but most people with ALS die from respiratory failure.
The disease usually strikes between age 40 and 60. More men than women get it. No one knows what causes ALS. It can run in families, but usually it strikes at random. There is no cure. Medicines can relieve symptoms and, sometimes, prolong survival.
NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
- ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) - Short Summary Available in Spanish
- Frequently Asked Questions about ALS and the ALS Registry (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- What Is ALS? (ALS Association) Available in Spanish
- Could Type 2 Diabetes Shield Against ALS? (06/01/2015, HealthDay)
- About ALS: FAQ (ALS Association)
- Benefits for Military Veterans with ALS (ALS Association)
- For Caregivers: Coping with Burnout (ALS Association)
- MDA ALS Caregiver's Guide (Muscular Dystrophy Association)
- Oral Care for the Patient with ALS: A Guide for the Caregiver (ALS Association)
- Genetic Testing for ALS (ALS Association) - PDF
- Genetics Home Reference: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (National Library of Medicine)
Statistics and Research
- Genetic Lassos May Steer Neurons Toward Survival During Lou Gehrig's Disease (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
- NIH Researchers Identify New Gene Mutation Associated with ALS and Dementia (National Institute on Aging)
- Who Gets ALS? (ALS Association)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (National Institutes of Health)
Journal ArticlesReferences and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Quantitative susceptibility mapping of the motor cortex in amyotrophic lateral...
- Article: Spatial cluster analysis of population amyotrophic lateral sclerosis risk in...
- Article: Comment: the environmental and genetic impact of spatial cluster analysis...
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis -- see more articles
- Glossary of ALS-Related Medical and Scientific Terms (ALS Association)
Find an Expert
- ALS Association
- ALS Research and Clinical Centers (Muscular Dystrophy Association)
- Muscular Dystrophy Association
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Available in Spanish
Finance and Policy
- ALS Association's Patient Bill of Rights for People Living with ALS (ALS Association)
- Compassionate Allowances (Social Security Administration)