Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Reviewed by Amen Sergew, MD

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is sometimes called Lou Gehrig's disease, after the famous baseball player who had ALS. ALS is a rapidly progressive neuromuscular disease. This results in muscle weakness. The weakness can affect muscles around the lungs. These muscles include the diaphragm and chest wall. This muscle weakness can lead to trouble with breathing.

Symptoms include:

  • A weak cough: This can lead to pneumonia and respiratory failure.

  • Poor sleep: This can be associated with depression, fatigue and memory loss.

  • Trouble with swallowing and increased build-up of saliva: This can lead to secretions going into the lungs. This is another risk for developing pneumonia.

The diagnosis of ALS is often very difficult for the person with ALS and family members. There are a variety of resources that can be helpful with managing life with ALS.


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