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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

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This information was reviewed and approved by Amen Sergew, MD (6/30/2019).

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is sometimes called Lou Gehrig's disease, after the famous baseball player who had ALS. ALS is a rapidly progressive neuromuscular disease.


This results in muscle weakness. The weakness can affect muscles around the lungs. These muscles include the diaphragm and muscles within the chest wall. This muscle weakness can lead to trouble with breathing.

Symptoms of ALS include:

  • A weak cough: This can lead to pneumonia and respiratory failure.

  • Poor sleep: This can be associated with depression, fatigue and memory loss.

  • Trouble with swallowing and increased buildup of saliva: This can lead to secretions going into the lungs. This is another risk for developing pneumonia.

The diagnosis of ALS is often very difficult for the person with ALS and family members. There are a variety of resources that can be helpful.


Our Team at National Jewish Health

Team members at National Jewish can help. We can take care of your medical issues related to ALS. Our team includes:

  • Doctors: pulmonologists, neurologist

  • ALS Nurse Coordinator

  • ALS Navigator

  • Palliative care specialists

  • Respiratory Therapists

  • ALS Care Coordinator

  • Social workers

  • Physical, occupational and speech therapists

  • Nutritionist

Our Specialists

  • Alexander Dietz

    Alexander Dietz, MD

  • Bronwyn Long

    Bronwyn Long, DNP, MBA, ACHPN, AOCNS, ACNS-BC

  • Barry J. Make

    Barry J. Make, MD

  • Hilda Metjian

    Hilda Metjian, MD, FCCP

  • Jinny Tavee

    Jinny Tavee, MD

  • Chandler Tucker

    Chandler Tucker, RDN