Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), frequently known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a neurodegenerative ailment for which a cure remains elusive.

This topic of “Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.

What is ALS?

  • Alias: Often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
  • Definition: A neurodegenerative disorder primarily affecting:
    • Motor Neurons: Cells located in the brain and spine that control voluntary functions.
  • Functions Controlled: Walking, chewing, talking, and moving arms.
  • Nature: It’s a progressive disease, meaning symptoms get worse over time.


  • Initial Symptoms:
    • Muscle twitching.
    • Weakness in specific areas, notably in an arm or leg.
    • Trouble with swallowing and slurred speech.
  • Advanced Symptoms:
    • With disease progression, patients lose control over muscles needed for movement, speech, eating, and breathing.

Cause and Progression

  • Cause: The exact cause of ALS remains unknown.
  • Disease Progression:
    • ALS results in the progressive death of nerve cells.
    • Over time, muscles lose their ability to function and move, leading to muscle atrophy (wasting away).
    • The disease also impacts the motor neurons affecting respiratory muscles, thereby affecting the person’s ability to breathe.

Treatment and Prognosis

  • Cure: Regrettably, there is no known effective cure for ALS yet.
  • Treatment Options:
    • The best therapies available presently include drugs and other interventions.
    • Goal: To extend the lifespan of a Person with ALS (PALS).
    • Disease Progression: It varies for each individual. On average, survival time after diagnosis is around three years, with a broader range of 20 to 48 months.


  • Diagnosis Timeframe: Typically, from the onset of symptoms, it takes about 8 to 15 months to confirm a diagnosis of ALS.
  • Delay Reason: A significant factor for this delay is the absence of definitive biomarkers for the disease.

Related Posts

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Home Courses Plans Account