Monday, February 23, 2009

Dandruff Steals The Headlines... Besides, You're Not Likely To Have This Disease

From Dr. Donohue's "To Your Good Health" column at ... way under the featured question on dandruff...

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My father was 67 when he passed away in 1989 from ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease. He had it for only two years. I am 60 years old and a Vietnam veteran from 1968. I had extensive nerve and muscle wounds in both legs and my left arm from the war. I get muscle spasms in my legs and am concerned that it might be ALS. Is ALS hereditary?
— B.W.

Only in a few cases, 5 percent to 10 percent, does heredity play a major part in ALS. ALS is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It's a dying off of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control muscle movement. In its final stages, it leaves a person a prisoner of his own body, unable to move and often unable to swallow or talk. The initial symptom of ALS is muscle weakness, not muscle spasms. You're not likely to have this illness.

Readers may write to Dr. Donohue or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.

Dr. D's response is correct from the textbook. The part that is missing is that since veterans have an astronomically increased risk of ALS, perhaps B.W. might want to touch base with a VA neurologist to check out whatever his problem may be.

"You're not likely to have this illness," is a sentence that thousands of people with ALS have heard from primary care physicians before being diagnosed correctly by knowledgeable neurologists.


Anonymous said...

We still await the ALS Registry Act which is needed to verify accurate occurrences of Familial ALS. The 5% - 10% statistic has been quoted for decades and is probably the reason Dr. Donohue thinks B.W. is in a safe zone. Those that harbor the inherited SOD1 mutation is less than the 5% while there are still those that have Familial ALS without that mutation. Whether you were in the military or not, your chances are 50% if one parent was diagnosed with ALS. Also, a neurologist is one that would know that with Familial ALS there are approximately 14 -17 variations, with or without the S0D1 mutation.

Steve said...

Good point Sleepy!

Sleepy said...

Besides, even if B.W. isn't a candidate for one of the variations of familial ALS, he still has a ticket in that lottery for sporadic ALS... and those odds are a lot better than Powerball, especially for a veteran.