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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Also called: ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease 
 
 

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

 

 

 
 
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Illustration of the nervous system, including brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves

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National Institutes of Health

 

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MedlinePlus links to health information from the National Institutes of Health and other federal government agencies. MedlinePlus also links to health information from non-government Web sites. See our disclaimer about external links and our quality guidelines.