Bulbar ALS Symptoms: Bulbar Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Prognosis

Bulbar ALS or Bulbar amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive fatal neuromuscular disease that affects the motor nerves in the spinal chord and the brain. When these motor neurons die the brain is unable to transmit its instructions to the voluntary muscles. As a result muscles become weak, get atrophied and ultimately lose their ability to work.

Symptoms Of Bulbar Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

The daily activity and functions of the muscles such as walking, talking, swallowing, writing, holding things etc, become difficult and eventually stop.

Bulbar ALS is destruction of motor neurons in the brain stem; it is the type of ALS where speaking and swallowing difficulty is the first symptom noted.

Patients suffering from bulbar ALS may be able to walk and hold things, but may not be able to eat and talk in initial phase.

The rate of progression of the disease is fast.

Bulbar ALS disease symptoms include:

  • Slurred speech is the first sign.
  • Difficulty in chewing and swallowing food.
  • Difficulty in closing the eye lids and mouth.
  • Tremors in the tongue.
  • Food may get choked in the food pipe or wind pipe.
  • Aspiration Pneumonia is common due to weak chest muscles.
  • Difficulty in breathing.
  • Sleepiness during day time.
  • Chronic fatigue.
  • Uncontrollable laughing.

Bladder and bowel movement are not affected.

Prognosis For ALS Patients

  • Average onset age for bulbar ALS is 55 yrs to 60 yrs.
    It can occur in both sexes but men are more prone than women to get this disease.
  • There is no cure for bulbar ALS.
  • Prognosis is poor: 50% of patients die within one and half year after detection of ALS. For bulbar ALS life expectancy is even less than limb onset ALS.

Bulbar ALS Life Expectancy

20% survive for five years and 10 % for more than 10 years.

Patients with bulbar ALS may live longer with assisted respiration such as ventilator, but may require round the clock qualified nursing care.