Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS) News

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is a degenerative condition that gradually affects the nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord. As the disease progresses, it causes the loss of strength and the gradual inability to control the arms, legs and body. It eventually leads to paralysis and death. It is often called “Lou Gehrig’s disease” because of the famous New York Yankee first baseman who developed the disease in the 1930s.

Causes and Symptoms

The exact cause of ALS is unknown, but a number of studies have looked into whether everything from genetics to environmental factors has a role in causing ALS. Recently, researchers have been able to identify the gene mutations that are present in individuals with ALS. What causes these gene mutations, however, is currently unclear.

When someone develops ALS, however, the disease typically follows a fairly common progression. It often starts with subtle signs such as muscle weakness, tightness or cramping in muscles, difficult chewing or swallowing and slurred or nasal speech. As the nerves continue to degenerate over several months or years, the person gradually loses the ability to walk, to stand on their own or use their arms. Difficulty chewing, swallowing and maintaining weight are also commonly seen in those with ALS.

Typically, a person remains cognitive and well aware of what is happening to them as the disease progresses. This can lead to issues like anxiety and depression, which are common in people with ALS. In later stages of the disease, someone with ALS may experience full paralysis and lose the ability to breathe on their own. Most people with ALS die within 3 to 5 years of the onset of symptoms, usually of respiratory failure.


There is currently no cure for ALS, but one available medication, riluzole, can slow the progression of the disease, and many more are being investigated. There are also a number of devices, treatments and therapies available for those with ALS to help slow the progression of the disease and improve quality of life. Though the outlook is often bleak, many with ALS are still able to live rewarding, fulfilling lives with the disease and live with it for many years.

SOURCES: U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; ALS Association

Date Posted
Article Title
Diesel Exhaust and ALS Link?

Frequent exposure to diesel exhaust at work may increase risk of ALS, study finds.

White Collar Workers at Higher Odds of Death From ALS, Parkinson's

Study found richer, better-educated folks with these brain diseases are more likely to die

Dying May Not Be as Awful an Experience as You Think

Study of people nearing their own death finds many describe the journey as surprisingly positive

Rogue Genes May Cause Some ALS Cases

Most people with Lou Gehrig's disease have no known family history of it

FDA Approves 1st New Drug for ALS in Decades

Radicava, given intravenously, slows decline in patients with deadly neurological disease

Scientists Extend Lives of Mice With ALS

But research still in early stages

Could Electromagnetic Fields Raise a Worker's ALS Risk?

Study suggests chances doubled of getting degenerative nervous system disease, but absolute risk remains low

Brain Chip Helps Paralyzed 'Type' With Their Mind

Researchers report patients showed fastest speeds seen yet in such experiments

Does Mercury in Fish Play a Role in ALS?

Certain types of seafood may be linked to the fatal disorder, early research suggests

Brain Scans Let 'Locked-In' ALS Patients Communicate

Correct responses were provided to more than 70 percent of yes-or-no questions, researchers say

Was Football Safer Back in the Day?

Study found those who played in high school in 1950s and '60s don't face increased risk of dementia

Brain Implant Lets 'Locked-In' ALS Patient Communicate

Signals sent to hand emerge as typed message on a tablet computer, researchers report

Smoking Tied to Shorter Survival With ALS

Tobacco use may make patients with the degenerative disease deteriorate faster, Italian study suggests

Better Detection Key to Rising ALS Cases in U.S.

Health officials doubt rate of Lou Gehrig's disease is actually increasing

'Ice Bucket Challenge' Funds a Boon to ALS Research

Money raised during the online campaign helped scientists spot gene linked to deadly nerve disease

Stem Cells Deemed Safe for ALS Patients

But further research needed to see if injections into spine would provide any benefit, researchers say

Pesticides Linked to Raised Risk of ALS

One toxin in particular was tied to sixfold higher odds of developing Lou Gehrig's disease

Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses Still Poorly Understood: Report

VA-sponsored study says people should be monitored for ALS, cancer and other diseases that take years to develop

Formaldehyde in Embalming Fluid May Raise ALS Risk for Funeral Directors

Previous animal research has shown link between chemical and fatal neurological disease

Could Type 2 Diabetes Shield Against ALS?

Study suggests a potential link, but researchers can't explain it

Mouse Study Suggests Brain Is Damaged Early in Lou Gehrig's Disease

Scientists say finding sheds new light on progression of the illness

Common Blood Pressure Drug May Lower Risk For Lou Gehrig's Disease: Study

But new finding needs additional research to confirm the link, experts caution

Technology Helps 'Locked-In' Stroke Patient Communicate

Brain-computer interface allows paralyzed man to express words, researcher says

Scientists Unlock a Key to Cell Stress

Stressed cells can halt protein production, which could could shed light on diseases like Alzheimer's and ALS

Blood Test Might Help Predict Survival With Lou Gehrig's Disease

Study findings may also help researchers test new ALS drugs, researchers suggest

Omega-3s in Diet May Help Ward Off Lou Gehrig's Disease

Study found strong association between higher intake and lower odds for ALS

Group Doctor Visits May Benefit Muscle Disorder Patients

Those who attended their annual neurologist visit with peers reported slightly better quality of life later

Scientists Make Gene Discovery in Lou Gehrig's Disease

Finding may advance understanding of fatal, degenerative condition

Early Signs That High-Calorie Diet May Help With Lou Gehrig's Disease

Regimen that boosted carbohydrate intake seemed to work best, researchers say, but more study needed

Newly Created Rats Designed to Speed Alzheimer's Research

The genetically engineered rodents more closely mimic the disease found in humans, scientists say

Can Brightly Colored Fruits, Veggies Protect Against ALS?

Study tied foods like carrots, spinach and yams to lower risk of Lou Gehrig's disease

Stem Cell Transplants in Mice Show Promise for Lou Gehrig's Disease

Rodents with the nervous system disorder increased lifespan, neuromuscular function, study shows

Scientists ID Gene That Shows Progression in ALS Patients

Researchers hope finding may help in developing treatment for Lou Gehrig's disease

Ex-NFL Players at Higher Risk for Alzheimer's, ALS: Study

But study was small, and safety has improved over time, experts note

Writing Using the Eyes Might Help Paralyzed Communicate

Although still in development, technology may help people with ALS, other movement problems

Toxins Afloat in Shark Fin Soup?

Neurotoxins linked to brain diseases identified in fin samples, study says

Scientists Discover Key Gene Mutation Behind Lou Gehrig's Disease

The same gene variant also plays role in common form of dementia, researchers say

Researchers Say They've Found Common Cause of All Types of ALS

Might lead one day to new treatments for the condition, also called Lou Gehrig's disease

Ring Finger Length Linked to ALS, Study Suggests

But whether this has any effect on risk of 'Lou Gehrig's disease' is unknown, researchers say

Smoking May Up Risk of ALS

Chemicals in cigarettes might play a role in Lou Gehrig's disease, researchers say

Gene Tied to Inherited Form of Lou Gehrig's Disease

Variant may cause 1 to 2 percent of familial cases of ALS, study finds

Genetic Studies Find Clues to 'Lou Gehrig's Disease' Risk

Two teams report on role chromosome 9 seems to play in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Lithium of No Benefit in ALS, Study Finds

Two doses tested did not help patients with Lou Gehrig's disease, researchers say