How to Participate and Raise Awareness During ALS Awareness Month

Shopify API May 13, 2022 No Comments
ALS Awareness Month is a time for organizations and individuals to spread awareness for the neurodegenerative disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
ALS Awareness Challenge

May 2022. This article is independently written by Shelby Golding. All opinions given are hers. Shelby has been certified as a personal trainer and nutritional specialist since 2007. In 2008, she found her passion for writing about these topics and hasn't looked back.

ALS Awareness Challenge

ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. More commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, after the famous baseball player was diagnosed with it, ALS spreads and worsens over time and is ultimately fatal.
Every year in May, ALS Awareness Month is a time for organizations and communities to spread awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. By educating more people about the disease, these organizations ensure that ALS is more easily recognized and that those with the condition receive the help they need.

Keep reading to learn more about ALS and how you can participate and raise awareness this May.

What is ALS?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is neurodegenerative, a term that means the cells in the central nervous system either stop working or die. Other common neurodegenerative diseases include Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s.
Degenerative diseases are generally incurable and worsen over time. ALS specifically targets the motor neurons which control voluntary muscle movements.
Once diagnosed with ALS, a patient has an average of two to five years before the disease becomes fatal. Although, some people live as long as ten years or longer after diagnosis.
The most common risk factors for ALS are genetics, age, and gender. About 10 percent of ALS cases are inherited from a parent. Only one parent needs to carry the disease-causing gene. Most ALS patients are between 55 and 75, and men are more likely to develop the disease than women.

Symptoms of ALS

ALS progresses through several stages of degeneration. Symptoms begin with muscle twitches, weakness in a limb, and difficulty speaking or swallowing. Your muscles may appear and feel weaker, tighter, or uncontrollable. Older folks with ALS might experience fatigue and poor grip strength as well.
As the disease progresses, the muscle of the affected areas become paralyzed while others seem stiff. Unused muscles will contract involuntarily, causing pain and discomfort. Walking will become more difficult as the joints become rigid and deformed. Patients will need help eating as saliva dries up and makes it difficult to chew and swallow. Occasionally, a patient's emotions will be affected, causing uncontrollable laughter or crying.
Toward the end, at least 90% of voluntary muscles become paralyzed. The lungs are damaged, and breathing will be difficult. The patient will most likely need a full-time nurse to help them with their basic needs. Eating and drinking will be next to impossible, and speech will continue to deteriorate.
Patients with ALS usually die from suffocation from the disability of the lung muscles, choking while trying to swallow food or cardiac arrest due to heart abnormalities.
ALS is currently incurable. Certain treatments can make the lives of people with the disease more comfortable, including medications to relax their muscles and control saliva and other symptoms.

How To Participate in ALS Awareness Month

How To Participate in ALS Awareness Month

If you or someone you love is affected by ALS, you may wonder what you can do to ensure they get the support they need and deserve.
Here are a few ideas for how to participate during ALS Awareness Month:
● Check out an ALS organization: Organizations like The ALS Association and MDA ALS are great resources for ideas on how to participate. They have lots of educational resources for newly diagnosed patients and family members. Most also include links to ALS support both locally and nationally.
● Donate: Donate your time or money to the cause. Walks To Defeat ALS is the #1 way to fundraise and unite with fellow ALS participants. Funds support people with ALS, research for a cure, and advocacy on a local and national level.
● Spread awareness: Become an advocate for ALS in your community or join an ALS organization online. No matter your qualifications or expertise, volunteers and workers are always needed to further progress toward finding a cure.

ALS affects around 30,000 people in the US and is responsible for five out of 10,000 deaths in people over 20. In addition, about 5,000 new cases are diagnosed per year.

Raise Awareness

Raising awareness about ALS is more critical now than ever before. This May marks a little over two years since the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, while the well-being of communities was dragged to the forefront to stem the spread of infection, the search for a cure to life-threatening diseases like ALS lost attention.
The physical, emotional, and financial burden on ALS patients did not diminish over the past two years. Instead, a lack of access to traditional care and a shortage of caregivers left ALS patients and their families scrambling for support.
Here are a few ideas for how to raise awareness for ALS:
● Begin by contacting one of the major ALS organizations to learn more about the disease. Of course, you can't raise awareness without educating yourself about the condition itself and any existing efforts to increase the general population's knowledge of ALS.
● Support local and national ALS advocates who work hard to ensure that ALS isn't forgotten in stimulus packages and legislation.
● Volunteer your time and/or money to contribute to larger efforts to find a cure.

ALS Awareness

This May, during ALS Awareness Month, make an effort to educate yourself on the signs, symptoms, and state of ALS in the medical world. Large-scale changes start with individuals who want to make a change.
For example, the 2014 ALS ice bucket challenge that went viral and raised $115 million began with two men, Pete Frates and Pat Quinn. Think creatively and start by exploring local options to raise awareness in your community.

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