Experts do not know exactly what causes amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Currently, the disease can’t be prevented, but researchers are looking into the idea of possible prevention methods.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. This progressive condition affects the motor neurons that control the voluntary muscles in the body. As ALS advances, a person may lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, and move their body.
Eventually, ALS may cause widespread paralysis, ultimately shortening a person’s life. Keep reading to learn more about what causes ALS, whether or not this disease can be prevented, and what risk factors increase your chance of developing it.
Here’s more in-depth information about ALS.
Currently, ALS cannot be prevented.
These supplements include:
Research suggests these supplements may combat inflammation and reduce oxidative stress, thereby delaying the onset of ALS by delaying cell damage. More research is needed to substantiate these claims, but initial reports look promising.
In the meantime, experts say that the best method of addressing ALS is early diagnosis and treatment to prevent advanced motor neuron damage. If you think you may be at risk, consider familiarizing yourself with the early signs of the disease, like muscle twitches, slurred speech, and trouble swallowing.
Some research suggests that ALS may be triggered by a number of situations, including:
- viruses and infections, like poliovirus and coxsackievirus
- a diet that is high in fat andglutamate or consuming β-methylamino-L-alanine (an amino acid)
- environmental exposure to toxins — like lead, mercury, and cyanobacteria
- trauma, specifically concussion, traumatic brain injury, or repeated head injuries
People with a family history of ALS may be at a slightly
Current research is targeted at people who have the following situations that put them at higher risk of developing ALS:
- people with frontotemporal dementia
- people with motor impairment
- people with other neurological diseases in the family (like schizophrenia)
- veterans or others with certain environmental exposures
Additional risk factors:
- environment: exposure at work or home to things like agricultural chemicals, heavy metals, radiation, and solvents
- race: risk is
increasedfor white and non-Hispanic people
- sex: people assigned as male at birth are
more likelyto develop ALS than people assigned female at birth
- age: onset can happen at any age but is more likely between ages
ALS is considered a progressive disease. What this means is that it gets worse over time. While individual outcomes will vary, most people with ALS live for between
How common is ALS?
ALS is the most common motor neuron disease. It affects up to
Is there a cure for ALS?
No. This condition does not have a cure. Treatment is to address symptoms and prolong a person’s life.
At what age does ALS most often crop up?
People have been diagnosed as early as in their 20s to as late as in their 70s. The average age at the time of diagnosis is
Researchers are working to discover effective prevention methods for people with risk factors for ALS. More study is needed to support early claims of certain supplements or lifestyle changes that may help. If you have risk factors for ALS, make an appointment with your doctor.
Early detection and treatment can help slow the progress of the disease and improve your quality of life.