Could It Be ALS?

Receiving a diagnosis of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) can raise a number of concerns and questions – for the person receiving the diagnosis, as well as his or her loved ones. What causes the disease? What symptoms can be expected now, and how will those symptoms change in time? Where do I turn for ALS supportive services?

As many as 30,000 people in the U.S. alone are currently living with ALS, and over 5,000 new ALS diagnoses are made each and every year. And although the cause is still not fully understood, research leads us to lean towards some complex risk factors, including a doubled risk of ALS for those who served in the military during the Gulf War.

While each person can be affected by ALS uniquely from others, the disease’s progression seems to follow a predictable set of stages. Understanding these stages is crucial for both the individual diagnosed with ALS and family caregivers, so that the most appropriate level of care can be provided at all times. As providers of top-rated home nursing in Tucson and the surrounding areas, we have provided important details below:

Early Stage

The most noticeable symptoms of ALS are often apparent in just one particular area of the body. However, more mild symptoms may impact other areas as well. For some people, the first muscles to be affected are those used for breathing, speaking, and swallowing.

Symptoms May Include:

  • Difficulties with balance
  • Exhaustion
  • Slurred speech
  • A weaker grip
  • Stumbling

Middle Stage

In this stage of the disease, some muscles may become paralyzed, while others are weakened or unaffected. ALS is now more apparent, and twitching often becomes noticeable.

Symptoms May Include:

  • Trouble with standing upright unassisted
  • Problems with both eating and swallowing, which can cause the person to choke
  • Struggling to breathe, when lying down in particular
  • The potential for inappropriate and uncontrollable laughing or crying (known as PBA, or the pseudobulbar affect)

Late Stage

During the final stage of ALS, the individual requires full assistance for care needs. Speaking may no longer be possible, and the person is no longer able to eat or drink by mouth.

Symptoms May Include:

  • Paralysis in most voluntary muscles
  • Extreme difficulty with breathing, leading to unclear thinking, fatigue, headaches and an increased susceptibility to pneumonia
  • Significant impact to mobility

Receiving care from a professional home care provider, such as Senior HomeCare of Tucson, can improve quality of life for those diagnosed with ALS through a full range of customized services, such as preparing meals, maintaining a safe and clean home environment, running errands, offering transportation to medical appointments and other outings, reducing the risk of falls, and friendly companionship to brighten each day. Call us at 520-355-4787 for a free in-home assessment to learn more about our home health services in Tucson, AZ and the surrounding areas.

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