May is the party month! Then we have Cinco De Mayo, where people use this day to indulge in crazy amounts of alcohol. Graduation season is in full swing, Tauruses are showing out and Geminis are anxiously waiting their turn. Artists are hitting the road and families are going on vacations. In all seriousness though, there are some important causes to highlight this month. Including raising awareness of ALS, remember that viral challenge everyone used to do called the Ice Bucket Challenge? If you don’t remember the challenge it involved dumping ice cold water over a person's head, either by another person or self-administered, to promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and encourage donations to research.
ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) or Lou Gehrig’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that steals a person’s ability to move, speak and eventually breathe. Here is the Greek breakdown of the word, "A" means no. "Myo" refers to muscle, and "Trophic" means nourishment – "No muscle nourishment." When a muscle has no nourishment, it "atrophies" or wastes away. When this area scars it leads to sclerosis in that area which means hardening.
It’s two types of ALS, sporadic and familial. Sporadic is the most common form of this disease and Familial is a rarer form of which accounts for a smaller percentage. Familial means that this disease is inherited, there’s a fifty percent chance that this will be passed. Mr. Jean Martin Charcot is a French neurologist who discovered this disease. Studies have been done all over the world to combat this disease to alleviate the pain experienced, but there’s no cure. It happens to people later in life, ALS usually attacks people in this age group 40-70. There are some instances of people being diagnosed in their twenties and thirties. Generally speaking, ALS occurs in men and women as they grow older.
Unlike other diseases it doesn’t discriminate, it attacks all types of people. Healthy people can get this disease as well.
Here are facts about ALS:
- ALS isn't contagious
- Life expectancy us about three to five years after diagnosis. It can be longer
- Once diagnosed it’s going to progress which means you will lose your motor skills
- Approximately 5,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. The incidence of ALS is two per 100,000 people, and it is estimated there are at least 16,000 Americans may be living with ALS at any given time.
- ALS affects all types of backgrounds; it doesn’t matter the socioeconomic or racial background.
- Those who served in the military are twice as likely to develop ALS.
For identifying the symptoms and obtaining a diagnosis get with your physician.