Now for some more bad news: you probably know someone who has or will get ALS, because this terrible disease currently affects up to 2 million people worldwide. It’s often diagnosed between the ages of 40-70 but ALS manifests itself differently from person to person; it can be identified as early as infancy.
ALS is characterized by progressive muscle weakness and atrophy. This includes fasciculations (twitching of muscles), cramps, loss of reflexes in the lower body, and impaired speech production in varying degrees depending on the stage of progression.
The major complication in people with ALS is respiratory failure. Patients depend on voluntary motor control to operate their breathing muscles for this reason which means that one can become incapacitated due to injury or illness much more readily than otherwise. They may also suffer from cognitive difficulties such as dementia caused by interference with brain functions due to degeneration of nerve cells in areas responsible for thought processing and exercising.