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WHO CARES: Chronic Illness in America
WHO CARES: Chronic Illness in America

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Lou Gehrig's Disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)

Description: A disorder caused by the destruction of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord resulting in progressive loss of nervous control of voluntary muscles.

Symptoms: Muscle weakness, decrease in muscle strength and coordination affecting the shoulder and upper arm or the hips and upper thigh, progressing to difficulty lifting, climbing stairs, paralysis, muscle cramps, speech impairment, difficulty swallowing or breathing.

Number of Americans diagnosed: ALS affects approximately 30,000 Americans.

Long-term problems/treatments: There is no known cure for ALS. Treatment is aimed at control of symptoms. Medications may be used to control muscle spasticity and impaired ability to swallow saliva. Physical therapy, rehabilitation, use of appliances (such as braces or a wheelchair), or orthopedic intervention may be required to maximize muscle function and general health. There is progressive loss of ability to function or care for oneself. Death often occurs within two to ten years; about 20 percent of people live longer than 5 years with ALS.
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Doctor's Guide -- ALS

ALS Assocation

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