Is there any treatment for ALS?
Many of the symptoms of ALS are treatable, but there are no drugs or treatments to cure the disease. However, patients may elect to take Rilutek©, the first FDA-approved medication for the treatment of ALS, as it has been shown to modestly increase lifespan. In addition, Nuedexta is approved by the FDA to treat pseudobulbar affect, a symptom that can occur in ALS/MND and other neurological conditions. Decisions regarding medication should be made in consultation with a neuromuscular specialist and should be part of a comprehensive treatment approach.
The quality of life of patients with ALS can often be improved by various treatments and interventions. Care provided by experts in multidisciplinary centers has been shown to prolong survival (Miller, et. al., 2009). Proper positioning, exercise, physical therapy and medications can help patients manage their symptoms. A feeding tube may be suggested if there is inadequate nutrition, extended meal times, rapid weight loss, high risk of aspiration (inhaling food or liquids into the lungs) or recurrent pneumonia. A wide range of devices and techniques can address problems with communication. Ultimately, ALS may result in sleep interruptions and changes in breathing, requiring consideration of airway clearance therapies. This may range from medications to non-invasive (mask) ventilation to a tracheostomy with mechanical ventilation. Managing symptoms is often a full-time responsibility for the patient and their caregivers.