ALS Disease Symptoms & Characteristics

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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurological disease that begins with muscle weakness and results in death. It is also called Lou Gehrig's disease after the famous baseball player who perished from it in 1941.

Early Symptoms

The first symptom of ALS usually manifests as a weakness in the feet or legs. People with ALS have footdrop, difficulty lifting up the front of the foot.

Movement

Other early symptoms include clumsiness, slurring of speech and muscle cramps in the arms and shoulders.

Spread

Though the disease begins in either the hands or the feet, it will eventually spread to all other parts of the body.

Atrophy

In later stages of ALS, the muscles will become weaker until the person is eventually paralyzed.

Final Stage

In the final stage of ALS, people are unable to speak, chew or breathe on their own. They will also develop dementia. People most often die three to five years after diagnosis as a result of respiratory failure.

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