The 4 Stages of ALS- Lou Gehrig ’s Disease
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a medical condition in which the upper motor neurons in the brain are degenerated, as well as the lower motor neurons which are in the spinal cord, and brainstem.
When the upper motor neurons face a serious problem such as degeneration, this causes spastic, also known as muscle contraction or tightening. Whereas, the effects on the lower motor neurons cause loss in the ability to move, muscle shrinkage, twitching, and weakness in the muscles as well.
ALS can occur at any age at anytime, although it is more likely to be diagnosed in the middle aged individuals. There are 4 stages to ALS.
1. Stage 1- The Beginning
There are several changes which happen in the muscles as well as the physical appearance and effects as well. In stage 1, the muscles will become softer, appear to be weaker, or sometimes, they become tight and spastic. Cramping and twitching are also common signs that ALS is in its early stages. Other symptoms include a single region being affected, or more than one region being affected as well.
The elderly or person who has been a target of ALS will experience fatigue often, will have a poor or very bad balance, have difficulty in talking, have weak grip, and other similar symptoms and signs.
2. Stage 2- The Middle
In the 2nd or middle stage, the muscles of the affected areas will be paralyzed, and other muscles will seem stiff as if they were about to become paralyzed as well. For the physical effects, ALS will cause contractures in the unused muscles stimulating a lot of pain. The joints will become rigid, deformation of joints will be visible, and the person will face a lot of difficulty in standing on their own. The patient will have weakness and swelling, and eating will become very hard as the saliva will tend to dry quickly and the patient will have a dry mouth. Sometimes, the patient will have disturbed emotions too, such as excessive and uncontrollable laughter, crying for no reason and similar symptoms will be seen in this stage as well.
3. Stage 3- The Late Stage
In the late stage of ALS, all the voluntary muscles or at least 90% of them will be paralyzed. Muscles in the lungs, which help in inhaling and exhaling, will be severely damaged and compromised. Mobility will be extremely restricted, personal needs and care will be needed to attend by a nurse or a full time accessible grownup. Constant complaints, headaches, dizziness, breathing concerns will remain. Speech will be disoriented and eating and drinking through the mouth will become almost impossible, and will have to be through another source.
4. Stage 4- The Ending
In the ending stage of ALS, the elderly patient may expire due to the lack of air and the disability to use lung muscles. Swelling of passage ways while swallowing food can result in chocking and may be fatal. Abnormalities may cause cardiac arrests and prove to be fatal.
The nurses at Partners in Healthcare are available to talk with you about your in-home senior care needs including how to stay healthy at home with RN managed affordable care. We are a private duty home care agency that provides elder home care services in the Orlando area, call us at 407-788-9393.