Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that happens when the nerve cells present in your brain stem and spinal cord die. This causes progressive weakness to develop in your muscles, and it eventually leads to death. Even though it is named after Lou Gehrig, a former Yankee slugger. Stephen Hawking was probably the most famous patient infected with this disease. Stephen contracted ALS in his early 20s, while majority of the patients are diagnosed in their mid-age, around 50s.
Stephen’s struggle with the disease was quite different than most average ALS patients, He has lived with this disease for over 75 years, while most patients tend to die after a struggle for 5 years. ALS has some horribly tragic features, and the fact that this disease is very rare makes it all the more terrifying.
Let’s take a look at some other agonizing features of this life-threatening disease:
1. It starts with muscle weakness
ALS causes the nerve cells to die, and the very first symptom of this disease that results from the death of nerve cells is muscle weakness. This weakness begins reducing the motor functioning of muscles everywhere in the patient’s body, but first, it affects their mouth, legs and hands.
Some patients tend to stumble a lot, while some patients find it hard to lift their hand or feet. Menial and ordinary tasks like eating, sewing, drinking or even picking up the keys become a serious ordeal. Some patients also tend to experience speech problems, uttering words and articulating speech. With the passage of time, muscles tend to worsen and this weakness spreads to the other parts of the body.