Being given a diagnosis of ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) can raise lots of questions and considerations, both for the person diagnosed and their family members. What’s the cause for ALS? What are the ALS symptoms for each stage of the disease? Where can I find the support I need?
Approximately 30,000 people in America are currently diagnosed as having ALS, and around 5,600 new patients are diagnosed with the illness each year. And while the specific cause is unknown, some scientific studies point to complicated risk factors, including a doubled risk of ALS in individuals who served during the Gulf War.
Although each person can be affected by ALS in different ways from others, the progression of the disease does seem to follow distinct stages. Gaining information on these phases can help people diagnosed with ALS and those who care for them put into action the most appropriate plan of care.
- ALS symptoms may be detected in only one single area of the body
- Milder symptoms may affect significantly more than this one region
- For some people, the preliminary impacted muscles are those used for speaking, swallowing or breathing
- Poor balance
- Stumbling when walking
- Weakened grip
- Slurring of speech
- Symptoms of ALS are now more substantial
- Twitching might be noticeable
- Some specific muscles may be paralyzed, while others are weaker or entirely unaffected
- Problems with breathing, especially when lying down
- Difficulties standing without assistance
- Struggles with eating and swallowing, which can lead to choking
- Possible uncontrolled and inappropriate crying or laughing, known as the pseudobulbar affect (PBA)
- The individual with ALS needs complete assistance to care for their needs
- The individual can no longer drink or eat by mouth
- Talking may no longer be possible
- Mobility is significantly impacted
- Breathing is significantly affected, causing fatigue, unclear thinking, headaches and susceptibility to pneumonia
- Paralysis in the majority of voluntary muscles
Obtaining care from a professional caregiver, like those at Heaven at Home Senior Care, can increase the quality of life for those impacted by ALS symptoms. Our care providers work with families to customize an individualized plan of care, allowing those experiencing symptoms of ALS to maintain dignity and the greatest level of independence at all times.