Degenerative diseases refer to medical problems that worsen over time. These degenerative diseases may affect the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), bones, blood vessels or heart. Sometimes, certain medications and therapies can treat these degenerative diseases. Unfortunately, some degenerative diseases have no cure.
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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a condition that affects 1 out of every 100,000 people, says MedlinePlus. Specifically, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a neurological disorder characterized by such symptoms as trouble breathing, gagging, trouble swallowing and muscle weakness that gets worse over time. This weakness begins to affect one body part such as the leg and spreads to the rest of the body. Trouble walking or lifting can result. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis can also lead to paralysis, hoarseness and problems with speech. Drooling, unintentional weight loss and swelling of the feet, ankles or legs are other symptoms affecting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis sufferers.
MedlinePlus says that 10 percent of people suffering with disease have a genetic defect. Unfortunately, 90 percent of people suffering with this condition have this condition for unknown reasons.
There is no cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. However, drugs like riluzole can be taken to slow this disease's progression. Muscle relaxants such as diazepam or baclofen can be used to treat the muscle stiffness. Amitriptyline can help a person swallow. Additionally, physical therapy and rehabilitation can help strengthen the body with stretching and low-impact exercises. Devices such as a brace or wheelchair can help amyotrophic lateral sclerosis sufferers move.
Heart disease is the leading killer of men and women in the United States, says the Mayo Clinic. Heart disease can occur due to blocked blood vessels and various heart problems such as an irregular heartbeat. Generally, symptoms of heart disease include chest pain, trouble breathing and pain or numbness of the legs. It also leads to lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting, a fast or slow heartbeat and swelling of the legs, ankles or hands.
Heart disease that is left untreated can progress to heart failure, a heart attack, a stroke, aneurysm (widening of the blood vessel), blockage of the vessels in the legs (peripheral artery disease) and cardiac arrest (heart stops beating).
Treatment for heart disease initially begins with lifestyle changes. Simply eating foods low in cholesterol and exercising at least 30 minutes a day can be beneficial. Also, taking certain medications such as statins can lower cholesterol. Other treatments involve antibiotic medications if the heart is infected. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair a valve, open a blood vessel or insert a pacemaker. Sometimes, heart disease may be so advanced that a heart transplant is the only option for successful treatment.
Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease affecting the bones. According to MedlinePlus, 1 out of 5 women over the age of 50 in the United States suffer from osteoporosis, a disease of decreased bone mass.
Osteoporosis symptoms include bone pain, a stooped posture, bone fractures, a loss of height and low back pain due to fractures.
Not consuming enough calcium and lack of estrogen during menopause can lead to osteoporosis.
Exercising can strengthen bones. Also, eat foods rich in calcium such as salmon, tofu, yogurt, cheese and ice cream to manage osteoporosis.
Treatment for osteoporosis also involves taking drugs such as ibandronate, calcitonin and hormone replacement therapy (estrogen). Parathyroid hormone and raloxifene are other treatments for osteoporosis.