Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Essay

1278 words - 5 pages

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease is the most common form of motor neuron disease in the adulthood (Batos et al,. 2011). Motor neurons are cells that carry messages from the brain to the muscles so they can contract. During ALS these motor neurons gradually degenerate and die (Ingram, 2012). The symptoms progress from muscles weakness, clumsiness and cramping (Ingram, 2012). It can then start in the limbs, slowly eroding the ability to move, ending in paralysis or it can start affecting speech, swallowing and eventually breathing (Ingram, 2012). Patients with ALS usually die of respiratory failures within five years of being diagnosed (Ingram, 2012).
Most ALS cases are sporadic and they are not sure what brings them on, but around five percent of ALS patients have evidence of it in their family history (Batos et al., 2011). Although they are not clear of the cause of ALS, a team with Neurology International has made some hypothesis to the possible cause. The first possible cause they believe could cause ALS is heavy metal intoxication. The Neurology International team described a patient that had worked in a factory and was exposed to large amounts of lead. The study concluded that, although no other tests were performed, that the probable cause of his ALS was the exposure to lead (Batos et al., 2011). Mercury could also be a cause of the development of ALS. Researchers believe this because a nurse developed ALS after she broke a thermometer containing mercury (Batos et al., 2011).
Viral Infections were pointed out to also be a possibly cause of ALS. Studies demonstrated a possible association between persistent infection due to enterovirus and ALS development in 46 individuals (Batos et al., 2011). There was an 88.3% of nucleic acid detection in the neuron’s bodies of the spine marrow in the ALS patients, this suggests that there is a strong association between the two conditions (Batos et al., 2011). HIV is also said to be a possible factor in the cause of ALS. HIV rarely infects neurons, but it does emerge in the microglia of the central nervous system (Batos et al., 2011). Selective damages may then occur to the motor neurons but this is very rare cause.
The last probable cause that may cause ALS is vigorous physical activity. Physical activity may alter the balance between the formation and removal of free radicals, leading to oxidative stress (Batos et al., 2011). It can also cause the overstimulation of the motor neurons, resulting in neuronal death (Batos et al., 2011). Soccer is usually associated with ALS because of the habit of heading the ball and the pesticides on the field (Batos et al., 2011). In their study they reported three cases of soccer players that ended up with ALS even though it did not show later in life. All three of the past soccer players admitted that they headed the ball often.
There are approximately 5,600 people in the U.S. that are diagnosed with ALS each year (Facts,...

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