This disease is also known as GEHRIG”S syndrome. It is disease that progresses rapidly and mainly attacks the neurons ( nerve cells) of the brain which is responsible for voluntary contraction of muscles and hence belongs to group of disorders called as motor neuron disease , in which there is gradual degeneration and death of the neurons takes place and results in muscle weakness, disability and death of the person.
Motor neurons reaches from brain to spinal cord and from spinal cord to the muscles of the body. During this disease when the motor neurons die, the ability of brain to control movements are lost and voluntary muscle action get affected results in total paralysis.. In Greek language word amyotropic means ” No muscle nourishment.” when there is lack of nutrition to the muscle , it atrophies means waste away and ” lateral ” describes the area in the spinal cord where the nerve cells are located which is mainly responsible for control the activities. This disease was diagnosed in 1939 in a famous base ball player. Most commonly this disease occur between the ages of 40 and 70 years. this disease occur in 1-3 people/100,000 and 90-95% of doctors donot know why ALS occurs. Men are affected slightly more than women. Patients do not have family history of disease are not considered to be the increased risk of ALS. Specific genetic defects lead to mutation of the enzyme known as Superoxide di mutase 1 ( SOD1) is found to be a possible cause of motor neuron death in ALS.
RISK FACTORS FOR ALS–
There is no clear risk factors associated with ALS. In most of the cases ( 90-95%) diseases occurs randomly. This is called as sporadic ALS. Some other risk factors are–
1) Neurotoxin exposure or exposure to heavy metals or viruses are believed to be the trigger factor.
2) sometime damaging nerve fibers during surgery is also responsible for causing ALS.
3) Recent studies showed that people who are in military are of higher risk of ALS. The exact cause of development of ALS in military people is not sure but it may be due to certain traumatic injuries, some kind of viral infections, exertion or exposure to certain metals or chemicals
4) There is possible connection between the disease and exposure to pesticides may be evident due to increase in incidence among soccer players.
5) smoking increase the risk of ALS than in non smokers.
6) Age factors is also responsible. People between 40-60 years of age are of higher chances to have ALS.
7) Before age of 65 more men than women develop ALS, but the sex difference disappears after age of 70 years.