The Ice Bucket Challenge has done wonders to raise awareness of ALS. Right now you can't open any of your social media accounts without seeing someone dumping a bucket of ice on their head. Some folks are getting tired of it as it reaches exponential proportions with each passing day. (Tons of celebrities are hoping on board too: Bill Gates, Oprah, Justin Beiber, and even Martha Stewart).
But in case you thought the challenge was stupid... The feel-good campaign has raised $15.6 million since July 29 for the ALS Association, which researches Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. That's compared with $1.8 million raised in the same time period last year. (via)
If you find your self challenged, we urge you to consider donating. Because, ALS is a real disease that effects about 5,000 new people every year. With some help from WebMD here is more information about ALS.
What Is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis?
In the U.S., amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is often called Lou Gehrig's disease after the famed baseball player whose struggle with this disease and death in 1941 brought it national attention.
ALS is an incurable, progressive degenerative neurological disorder. For reasons that are not understood, the nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement gradually deteriorate. As a result, muscles waste away, leading to paralysis and death, usually in two to five years.
The only nerve cells affected are the lower motor neurons, which control a wide range of things like movement of your limbs, swallowing, and even some aspects of breathing. But the senses and thinking processes remain normal. Pain is rare in this disease at any stage.
The disease is relatively rare: About 5,000 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. It almost always strikes after the age of 40, and it affects more men than women.
What Are the Symptoms of ALS?
In the early stages, the symptoms of ALS -- also called Lou Gehrig's disease -- include:
- Increasing weakness in one limb, especially in a hand
- Difficulty walking.
- Clumsiness of the hands.
- Fasciculations, which are subtle, light twitches under the skin
- Impaired speech
- Difficulty swallowing
As the ALS progresses, symptoms may include:
- Weakening of other limbs, perhaps accompanied by twitching, muscle cramping, and exaggerated, faster reflexes
- Problems with chewing, swallowing, and breathing; drooling may occur.
- Eventual paralysis