What is ALS?

alsHave you signed in to your Facebook or social media account and noticed your friends drenching themselves with a bucket filled with ice and water?  If you have been nominated to participate in the “Ice bucket challenge” you have been asked to be a part of an awesome fundraising scheme. The “ice bucket challenge” has been proven to be extremely popular with a ton of celebrities and high-profile people participating to raise money for ALS. So what exactly is ALS?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS is a neurologic disease that causes muscle weakness and slowly impacts the function of voluntary muscle actions such as the control of arms, face, legs and the brains ability to control all muscles over time. The disease was first discovered in 1869 and in the US about 5,600 people are diagnosed with this condition every year.

Although experts do not know exactly what causes ALS, it can affect anyone, regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity. Researches are investigating several different causes of ALS, some of which include disorganized immune response, chemical imbalances, and mishandling of proteins.

Disorganized immune response is where the immune system may attack the nerves cells in your body, potentially killing them. It is reported that people with ALS have a higher levels of glutamate, a chemical messenger in the brain near motor neurons. The chemical imbalance of glutamate is known to be toxic to nerve cells. The mishandling of proteins in the nerve cells cause the nerve cell to die.

While all of this medical terminology can be overwhelming and not easy to understand, the importance of raising money to understand this deadly disease is straight to the point. There is no cure for ALS but there are treatments that focus on alleviating the symptoms. If you are nominated or want to donate sign on to http://www.alsa.org/donate/.  As of August 25th, 2014 the ice bucket challenge has raised $79.9 million, in comparison to the same timeframe last year the charity raised $2.5 million in donations. Even the littlest donation counts!

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