What is the difference between ALS and MS (Multiple Sclerosis)?

What is the difference between ALS and MS (Multiple Sclerosis)?

What is the difference between ALS and MS (Multiple Sclerosis)?

There is often some confusion between ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and MS (multiple sclerosis). Both conditions are diseases that target and affect the individual’s central nervous system. Those who suffer from ALS and MS may also suffer from cognitive ability (i.e. knowing and perceiving) and memory issues. Those with MS may suffer more from mental impairment as opposed to those who have ALS. ALS is more typically defined by a lack of physical capabilities.

ALS and MS are both known as neurodegenerative diseases as they attack the muscles and nerves of the body. The two diseases are very similar in a number of ways, however, there are key differences that will determine the course of treatment and the patient’s overall outlook.

MS is an autoimmune disease that destroys the protective covering of the nerves (known as the myelin sheath) which results in the functions of the brain being impacted, and this impact affects the sufferer’s motor functions. MS more commonly results in mild symptoms for a number of years without causing severe debilitation.

ALS results in the neurons being destroyed completely over time resulting in the brain not being able to give any instructions to the body, this causes debilitation.   

These key differences between the two conditions are:

ALS

  • Targets the central nervous system and brain
  • The late-stage of this disease will often leave patients paralysed
  • Patients suffer from more physical problems and difficulties
  • This is NOT an autoimmune disease (i.e. a disease where the immune system will attack the body’s healthy cells) – The causes of ALS are largely unknown and can include a number of factors.
  • Is seen more commonly in men
  • People are mostly diagnosed with this condition between the ages of 40 and 70 years old
  • There is no known cure
  • This condition can be debilitating and fatal

MS

  • Targets and spinal cord and the brain
  • Individuals in the late-stage of this condition can have their mobility impacted, but they will rarely be left completely debilitated
  • Patients suffer from more mental problems and difficulties than those with ALS
  • This IS an autoimmune disease (a disease where the immune system will attack the body’s healthy cells) – MS is a result of the immune system viewing myelin, which is the protective nerve cell coating, as an invader and attacking it.
  • Is seen more commonly in women
  • People are mostly diagnosed with this condition between the ages of 20 and 50 years old
  • There is no known cure
  • This condition is rarely severely debilitating or fatal

Multiple Sclerosis

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