Being diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition is heart-wrenching. Life as you know it suddenly changes. Your mind is bombarded with questions about what it all means. You want to know everything about the condition. What are the symptoms of a flare-up? How is it treated? How will this impact your life — and the life of your loved ones? One of these terrifying ailments is ALS. And, infusion therapy may be the best form of treatment to alleviate the illness.
What is ALS?
ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The condition is a degenerative disease that affects brain cells and the spinal cord — causing motor neurons to die. When this occurs, the brain loses its ability to initiate muscle movement. As a result, muscles atrophy — causing a domino effect that impacts the person’s ability to move, speak, and even breathe.
There are two types of ALS: sporadic — the most common type of the condition, affecting up to 95% of cases — and familial, which is inherited. The disease is usually diagnosed in people between the ages of 40 and 70. Most people diagnosed with ALS have a life expectancy of about five years, while 30% of patients make it past the five-year mark and 20% of patients survive 10 years or more. In rare cases, a patient could survive about 20 years or more. There is no cure for ALS.
Symptoms of ALS
Symptoms of ALS vary depending on the advancement of the disease. They are progressive — meaning they get worse over time. They may also start only on one part of the body, or affect the entire body at once. Symptoms include:
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle twitches
- Lack of coordination
- Shortness of breath
- Severe constipation
- Difficulty swallowing
- Speech difficulties
- Difficulty raising your feet
During the late stages of the disease, most muscles are paralyzed. However, the muscles that control the heart, digestive system, bowel, and bladder functions are not affected. A person’s vision and thinking ability also remain unaltered.
Infusion Therapy for ALS
Radicava is one of only four medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat ALS. It’s effective because it slows down the loss of physical function. Since amyotrophic lateral sclerosis progresses so rapidly, starting treatment as soon as possible is crucial to slow its advancement.
The medication is only available for infusion therapy, and each treatment lasts about 60 minutes. Subsequent treatments alternate between every 10 and 14 days. While treatment is effective, it is not recommended for women who are pregnant, as it could harm the fetus.
Are there side effects of infusion therapy for ALS?
As with all prescription medications, Radicava may have side effects — the most common ones being headaches or allergic reactions. Additional possible risks include an infection at the site where the IV is inserted, or the IV becoming dislodged from your arm. The best way to prevent them from occurring is to have an experienced healthcare provider monitor the infusion treatments throughout their duration — such as is the case at Infusion Associates. In the event the IV becomes dislodged, the healthcare provider will give you a warm compress to prevent swelling.
What to Expect from Infusion Therapy for ALS
When you first visit one of our facilities, you’ll meet with one of our physicians, who will explain what to expect from the treatment, as well as how often you’ll need each infusion. During this time, you’ll be able to ask questions and address concerns. A medical provider and pharmacist are available as well.
At Infusion Associates, we have made treatment as comfortable and welcoming as possible. You’ll receive your infusion in a reclining chair. You’ll also have several amenities available — such as blankets, WiFi, television, coffee, tea, or hot cocoa. You can also bring your own drinks or snacks. Private rooms are also available upon request. We are open 365 days a year, to ensure you receive treatment when you need it.
If Your Doctor Has Recommended Infusion Therapy, Let Infusion Associates Help You
At Infusion Associates, we provide medically-prescribed infusion therapy for patients with chronic conditions in a welcoming and friendly environment. Our team of healthcare professionals is committed to making the experience as comfortable as possible. We always inform patients of any potential side effects and answer all their questions before starting treatment. In addition, we have a Registered Pharmacist on staff to make the process as seamless as possible.