Learn about ALS, gas reduction, fall prevention

October 3, 2018

Q. What is the survival rate for ALS?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, usually strikes people between the ages of 40 and 70.

Respiratory problems usually kill those with ALS in three to five years after diagnosis. About 10 percent of those with ALS live more than 10 years.

Some with ALS survive for many years. For example, famed British physicist Stephen Hawking, who died earlier this year, had ALS since the 1960s. In a small number of people, ALS mysteriously stops.

ALS destroys nerve cells that control muscle cells. In most cases, the cause is unknown. As the motor neurons are lost, the muscles they control weaken. Eventually, people with ALS are paralyzed.

ALS doesn’t directly affect involuntary muscles, so the heart, digestive tract, bladder and sexual organs continue to work. Hearing, vision, touch and intellectual ability generally remain normal. Pain is not a major component of ALS.

The usual early symptoms of ALS are weakness or spasms in a limb, and trouble speaking or swallowing. After the initial symptoms, the disease may progress in the following way: cramping of muscles, reduced use of the limbs, thick speech and difficulty projecting the voice, and difficulty breathing.

Q. What foods cause gas and the pain that often comes with it?

The following are gas-generating foods:

• Legumes, especially dried beans and peas, baked beans, soybeans, lima beans 
• Dairy products such as milk, ice cream, cheese
• Vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cucumbers, sauerkraut, kohlrabi, asparagus, potatoes, rutabaga, turnips, radishes, onions
• Fruits such as prunes, apricots, apples, raisins, bananas
• Foods containing wheat such as cereals, breads and pastries
• Fatty foods such as fried chicken and anything in cream sauces and gravies
• Any carbonated beverage.

The following are some of the danger signs associated with abdominal pain. If you experience any of them, get immediate medical attention:

• Sudden and sharp pain
• Pain that radiates to your chest, neck or shoulder
• Severe, recurrent or persistent pain
• Pain that worsens
• Vomiting blood
• Blood in your stool
• A swollen and tender abdomen
• Shortness of breath
• Dizziness
• High fever.

Q. What is the chief cause of deaths from injury in seniors?

Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths and the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma. Of all fall-related fractures, hip breaks cause the greatest number of deaths and lead to the most severe health problems and reduced quality of life.

As we age, the power of our senses, reflexes and coordination diminishes. Maladies and the medicines we take for them can contribute to balance problems. Then there's osteoporosis, a disease that makes bones more likely to snap.

There are many steps you can take to prevent a fall and the possibility of breaking a bone. Here are a few important ones:

• Get your bones tested. Your doctor can prescribe medications that will make your bones harder to break.

• Regular exercise makes you stronger and keeps your joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible. Weight-bearing exercise such as walking may slow bone loss from osteoporosis.

• Alcohol impacts your reflexes and balance. Elaboration is unnecessary.

• Get up slowly from lying and sitting to avoid feeling light-headed.


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