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The Nature of a Beast: Understanding ALS

By Arleen M. Kaptur
(Page 3 of 3)

When it comes to treatment, the FDA approved a drug called Rilutek, which appears to slow the progression of the disease. There are also several other medications that can help with the relief of symptoms, along with different therapies, vitamins, antioxidants, and proper nutrition, which are included as part of a treatment plan. In recent years, the over-the-counter supplement creatine seems to be effective in preventing ALS in studies using mice.

The unfortunate truth at this point and time regarding ALS is that it is almost always fatal, with the majority of patients dying painlessly and peacefully in their sleep, because of the build-up of carbon dioxide in the blood, caused by insufficient amounts of oxygen due to the shrinking of muscles which help with breathing. But there is also some good news, with the past five years seeing more research conducted than in the last 150 years since its discovery. Studies and research for other neurological diseases such as Parkinsonís are shedding new light on how to possibly treat ALS. Also, many loved ones do not have to remain in bed even though they may be totally paralyzed.

 Thanks to the improvements of modern technology, specially designed wheelchairs are lightweight can accommodate portable ventilators, allowing for loved ones to enjoy a lot more freedom and movement than in prior years. The most important thing that loved ones and their caregivers must remember is that they need to surround themselves by a strong network of support through family, friends, and the medical team. Look to the future, because there are hundreds of strides being made every day in research for finding better treatment, as well as to attaining the ultimate goal ... a cure.

The ALS Association
www.alsa.org

Les Turner Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Foundation
www.lesturnerals.org

Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) 
ALS Division
www.als-mda.org

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