When you look in the mirror, you probably see your family’s heritage reflected back at you in features like your face shape, hair color, and skin tone. You might have also inherited other traits, including your favorite hobbies and sense of humor. Many things run in families – including some chronic health conditions. If one of your relatives receives an ALS diagnosis, you may wonder if that increases your odds of developing this illness.
Sporadic vs. Familial ALS
According to the ALS Association, approximately 90 to 95% of cases of ALS are sporadic, which means they occur in people with no family history of ALS. The remaining 5 to 10% of cases are familial and arise due to a heritable gene mutation. You can also inherit recessive ALS gene mutations from your parents, even if they do not have the disease. A genetic test can help you identify your unique risk factors.
Prevailing evidence suggests a combination of lifestyle and environmental determinants is the most significant contributor to sporadic ALS. Still, some research suggests these variables may interact with genes to cause ALS. Current studies are underway to identify genes linked to the disease, in addition to the effects of exposure to specific toxins such as pesticides. Researchers spot these patterns by comparing people who have ALS with groups who remain unaffected by the disease.
ALS symptoms and progression are similar, whether it is genetic or appears spontaneously in someone with no family history of the condition. Therefore, insights gained from studying familial forms of the disease are also likely to benefit people with sporadic ALS. Therapies aimed at correcting the consequences of gene mutations may lead to effective treatments for all ALS cases.
Caring for a Loved One With ALS
While there is no cure for ALS, it’s possible to manage the symptoms, prevent additional complications, and allow your loved one to live a more comfortable, independent lifestyle. For example, the FDA has approved several specific medications that can slow the rate of decline and increase life expectancy.
Many people with ALS benefit from having an integrated team of experienced health professionals to coordinate their care, including doctors, nurses, nutritionists, and speech and occupational therapists. As their condition progresses, staying in a familiar environment can also help them feel safe and secure. At Legacy Homecare LA, our highly trained Care Companions will come to your loved one’s home to provide customized in-home care, physical therapy, and help with daily tasks such as bathing, eating, and getting dressed.
No matter what ALS stage your loved one is in, we will seamlessly adapt our custom services to match their changing needs and provide them with compassionate support 24/7. Contact us today if you are ready to learn how we can bring stability, companionship, and safety into your loved one’s life.