Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Chicana and Chicano StudiesLatino Health Issues

ALS Awareness for Latinos

Treatments for ALS Patients

What is ALS?
Who is Affected by ALS?
Symptoms of ALS
Links to ALS Sites
ELA Referencias en Espanol

Prescription Drug Treatment

In December 1995 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the drug riluzole (brand name Rilutek) for ALS. The drug seems to have an effect, prolonging survival by a few months. It's the only prescription drug currently listed for ALS treatment. This drug only prolongs an ALS patient's life. There aren't any drugs found yet that cure the ALS disease. (1)

Symptom Control

Although there are few drugs now available that substantially influence the course of ALS, doctors can prescribe several treatments to help control some of the symptoms of the disease. For example, there are medications to treat muscle cramps and spasms, dry up excess saliva (a problem when mouth muscle weakness results in drooling), relieve constipation (a problem when abdominal muscles weaken), and minimize anxiety and depression. Antibiotics can be prescribed to treat respiratory and other infections. (5)


Physical therapy can help maintain full range of motion of the joints and as much mobility as possible. Respiratory therapy and the prescription of ventilation devices to assist breathing, may all be involved in the treatment of ALS at various stages. Speech therapy and devices that substitute for speech can help compensate for loss of muscle control in the mouth and throat. (4)

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This site was created by Brent Clouse in fulfillment of requirements for the course CSS 335: Latino Health Issues taught by Dr. Szkupinski Quiroga at Arizona State University, Spring 2004.