Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
ALS is a fatal neurodegenerative disease involving primarily motor neurons in the cerebral cortex, brainstem and spinal cord. The relatively rapid progression of muscular weakness and muscle atrophy are the characteristic symptoms, which may vary from person to person according to the site of onset, age at onset and symptom at onset. There is extreme clinical heterogeneity. In the spinal onset types, weakness affects upper and lower limbs, while bulbar ALS affects the jaw, the facial muscles, the tone of voice and speech quality because the tongue become extremely atrophic and weak. Breathing issues occur when respiratory muscles are involved.
Most people who develop ALS are usually between the ages of 40 and 70, with an average age of 55 at the time of diagnosis. The disease is variable, though its progression is relentless.
In most of cases, ALS is a sporadic multifactorial disease, while a small percentage of ALS (10-20%) is hereditary (familial).