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ALS Symptoms in Men

ALS Symptoms in Men

ALS, short for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a severe medical condition that progressively degenerates the motor neurons of the body. This article covers the important symptoms of ALS in men.
Rajib Singha
ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. This condition attacks the nerve cells that are responsible for the function of the muscular system in the body. With time, these cells deteriorate and die. Records reveal that the condition affects about 1-3 persons per 100,000. Experts have also found that about 5-10% of the cases are associated with inheritance.
How to Identify Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
» Early symptoms of the condition include:
  • Feeling of stiffness and tightness in the muscles
  • Weakness in an arm or leg
  • Speech becomes slurry
  • Difficulty in chewing

» The tightness in the muscles indicate damage to the upper motor neurons, and the weakness means damage to the lower motor neurons. However, these symptoms are too subtle to get noticed and this causes ALS getting overlooked by most people when it is in an initial phase.
» Gradually the above symptoms are accompanied by:
  • The patient not being able to lift the front part of his/her foot or toes
  • Experiencing increased clumsiness
  • Difficulty in swallowing food
  • Muscle cramps

» With time and without treatment, the condition would restrict movements, cause dysphagia, and even severe difficulty in speaking or forming words.
» As ALS progresses further, it weakens the muscles to such an extent that they become paralyzed. Ergo, the patient may lose his/her ability to move, speak, eat, and even perform vital functions such as speaking, swallowing and even breathing.
Diagnosis
The symptoms of ALS can easily mimic those of other neurological conditions, and this makes it difficult to be diagnosed. That is why doctors perform various medical tests which help them rule out other conditions. The tests which are ordered for include MRI, blood test, urine test, and muscle biopsy. Apart from these, electromyogram, nerve conduction study, and spinal tap are also included as some important tests.
Probable Causes and Treatment
» Medical experts are not sure what exactly causes ALS. To add to this, they also cannot specify why does the condition occur in some people, and not in others. Records say that up to 1 in 10 cases of this disorder is related to inheritance. One possible cause is associated with the body's own immune system destroying the body's healthy cells. Other factors that doctors associate with ALS include free radical damage in the body, and high levels of glutamate.
» ALS is an irreversible disease, however, getting medical aid does help in slowing down its progress, and in managing the symptoms. The only drug for the treatment that comes under the approval of the Food and Drug Administration is Riluzole (Rilutek). This drug helps in limiting damage that is caused to the motor neurons, and extend survival by several months. Apart from this, patients may be prescribed with other medications to deal with symptoms such as constipation, pain, depression, fatigue, excessive phlegm, etc.
To conclude, ALS symptoms in men and women may also be managed with the help of physical therapy (for maintaining muscle strength), occupational therapy (to help patients make use of walker, wheelchair, etc.) and speech therapy (for maintaining clarity in speech).
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.