What to Expect From the Stages of ALS

An array of pills and vials of liquid surround a medical syringe, indicating treatment options for the stages of ALS.
Dakota Home Care can help you navigate the stages of ALS.

An ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) diagnosis can cause both anxiety and questions for the person diagnosed and their family. What causes ALS? What are the ALS symptoms that may be experienced right away, and how will they change in the future? Where am I able to find necessary support?

Roughly 30,000 Americans have been diagnosed with ALS with nearly 5,600 new patients diagnosed annually. And though the exact cause is unknown, some scientific studies point to complicated risk factors, such as a doubled risk of ALS in people who served during the Gulf War.

Everyone can be affected differently by ALS, but the disease often follows a particular progression of stages. Learning about these phases can help those diagnosed with ALS and those who care for them to execute the most appropriate care plan.

As a general guideline, here’s what you may expect to see in each stage of ALS:

Early Stages

  • ALS signs may be detected in only one part of the body
  • More mild symptoms may affect significantly more than this one region
  • For some individuals, the first impacted muscles are those used for breathing, swallowing, or speaking

Possible Symptoms:

  • Poor balance
  • Fatigue
  • Stumbling when walking
  • Slurring of speech
  • Weakened grip

Mid Stages

  • Signs of ALS are now more substantial
  • Twitching might be noticeable
  • Some specific muscles may be paralyzed, while others are weaker or totally unaffected

Possible Symptoms:

  • Difficulties standing without support
  • Problems with breathing, especially when lying down
  • Possible uncontrolled and inappropriate laughing or crying, known as the pseudobulbar affect (PBA)
  • Struggles with eating and swallowing, which can cause choking

End Stages

  • The individual can no longer drink or eat by mouth
  • Talking may no longer be possible
  • The person with ALS needs complete assistance to care for their needs

Possible Symptoms:

  • Paralysis in the majority of voluntary muscles
  • Breathing is substantially affected, resulting in fatigue, unclear thinking, headaches and vulnerability to pneumonia
  • Mobility is dramatically impacted

Receiving home care services from a professional Dakota Home Care caregiver can greatly improve the quality of life for someone diagnosed with ALS. Our care experts work with families to create an individualized plan of care, allowing those experiencing symptoms of ALS to maintain dignity and the greatest level of independence at all times.

Contact us any time online or at (877) 691-0015 to learn more about how our services can help someone you love in Bismarck, Fargo, Mandan, or the surrounding area.

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