Als — The death of actress Sandra Bullock’s longtime companion from ALS has raised public awareness of the condition once more.
Bryan Randall died after a three-year struggle with the disease, according to family members, and he preferred to keep the battle private from the start.
“Those of us who cared for him did our best to honor his request,” the statement said in part.
Here’s all you need to know about the condition.
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Table of Contents
What exactly is ALS?
ALS, which stands for “Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis,” is a condition that causes gradual degeneration of nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain, according to the Johns Hopkins Medicine website.
The Mayo Clinic website states that ALS affects motor neurons, or nerve cells that control voluntary muscular movements such as walking and speech.
“ALS causes both groups of motor neurons to deteriorate and eventually die.” Motor neurons that are injured stop transmitting messages to the muscles.
As a result, the muscles are unable to operate,” according to a section of the Mayo Clinic website.
According to the website, the ailment is also known as Lou Gehrig’s ailment. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Lou Gehrig was a professional baseball player in the United States who was diagnosed with the disease in 1939 and died in 1941.
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What causes ALS?
According to the website of Johns Hopkins Medicine, doctors do not know what causes ALS.
According to the Mayo Clinic’s ALS website, a genetic etiology can be discovered in roughly 10% of patients with ALS.
“Most theories center on a complex interaction between genes and environmental factors,” according to a section of the Mayo Clinic’s ALS website.
According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, some documented risk factors for ALS include: Age, with ALS most frequent between the ages of 60 and mid-80s.
Gender, with men developing ALS at a slightly higher rate than women before the age of 65. The gender difference, however, vanishes at the age of 70.
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According to the Mayo Clinic, other environmental factors such as smoking, exposure to environmental toxins, and military service have all been linked to an increased risk of ALS.
“It’s unclear what aspect of military service might cause ALS.” Exposure to specific metals or chemicals, traumatic injuries, viral infections, or excessive effort are all possibilities,” according to a section of the Mayo Clinic website.
According to the Johns Hopkins Medicine website, ALS is not contagious, which means it cannot be passed from person to person like a cold or the flu.
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What are the signs and symptoms of ALS?
According to the Johns Hopkins Medicine website, persons with ALS may first experience weakness in a leg that develops over a period of days or weeks.
“After a few weeks to months, weakness develops in another limb.” “Sometimes the initial problem is slurred speech or difficulty swallowing,” according to a section of the website.
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According to the website, as ALS advances, more symptoms may be recognized. Among the symptoms are:
- Muscle twitching and cramping, particularly in the hands and feet
- Motor control loss in the hands and arms
- Impaired use of the arms and legs
- Falling and tripping
- Dropping items
- Persistent exhaustion
- Uncontrollable bursts of laughter and tears
According to the website, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, and paralysis are also symptoms in the later stages of the disease.
Some persons with AMS may later be diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, according to the Mayo Clinic.
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What is the procedure for diagnosing ALS?
A healthcare provider will perform a physical exam and ask about a person’s medical history, according to the Cleveland Clinic’s website. A number of additional theses will be performed to confirm an ALS diagnosis, including
- Urine and blood tests
- An examination of the nervous system
- A test to evaluate the electrical activity of a person’s nerves and muscles is known as an electromyogram.
- A nerve conduction study to measure the ability of nerves to convey signals an MRI to look for areas of damage in a person’s brain or spine
- Other tests, including as spinal fluid tests and muscle and/or nerve biopsy, may be performed to rule out other disorders with comparable symptoms.
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Is it possible to treat ALS?
According to the Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins Medicine websites, there is no cure for ALS.
Is there a cure for ALS?
According to the Cleveland Clinic’s website, medications that help halt the course of ALS include:
- Rehabilitation treatment
- Nutritional advice
- Therapy for speech
- Wheelchairs and electric beds are examples of assistive devices and special equipment.
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What can I do to avoid developing ALS?
There is no established strategy to prevent ALS, according to the Cleveland Clinic’s website.
What is the prognosis for ALS patients?
People with ALS normally live for three to five years following diagnosis, according to the Cleveland Clinic’s website, but some can live for ten years or more.
“A person’s prognosis depends on how quickly the symptoms progress,” according to one section of the website.
Are there any other celebrities who have the disease?
Aside from Lou Gehrig and Bryan Randall, a number of well-known people have been diagnosed with ALS or died from the disease.
Scientist Stephen Hawking died in 2018 after living with the condition for over 50 years, as did Pete Frates and Pat Quinn, both of whom started the Ice Bucket Challenge, which went widespread on social media for a while. Quinn died in 2020, whereas Frates died in 2019.
ALS also affects singer Roberta Flack and former Chicago Bears football player Steve McMichael.
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