What are the different stages of ALS?
The common symptoms of ALS in the initial stage include muscle weakness and wasting. Patients may also develop other symptoms such as muscle cramps, and twitching (also called fasciculations), and tightness or stiffness (spasticity) of the muscles usually in any one part of the body.
The middle stage ALS
As ALS progresses, muscle weakness, atrophy, and wasting become worse and start affecting other groups of muscles.
The muscles may become weak or completely paralyzed. It may lead to an inability to swallow food and even saliva resulting in dysphagia. The loss of ability to breathe or cough on their own may increase the patients’ risk of choking.
This stage is also marked by difficulty in speaking and breathing (dyspnea) and periods of uncontrollable crying or laughter.
Late Stage ALS
Further progress of ALS may result in the paralysis of most of the voluntary muscles in the body. At this stage, patients can no longer speak, breathe, or eat on their own and hence, require a ventilator or a feeding tube for these tasks.
Most patients with ALS die within 2 to 5 years after the initial symptoms appear. The cause of death may include respiratory failure, malnutrition, pulmonary embolism, arrhythmia, or pneumonia.