Signs of bulbar amyotrophic lateral sclerosis progression include an increased shift to nasal pronunciation in everyday speech and growing difficulty regulating breathing in conversation, chewing and pronouncing words, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association states. Bulbar ALS attacks motor neurons that regulate chewing and breath control, which gradually leads to atrophy of the muscles used in these activities. Eventually, the patient may become unable to swallow even semi-liquid foods and may need feeding through a tube inserted into the stomach.
ALS is a condition that gradually destroys motor neurons in the spinal cord, brain and brainstem that regulate voluntary behavior, ASHA explains. The disease makes certain muscle movements more difficult to perform and eventually makes them impossible. As the disease only attacks neurons involved in voluntary movement, it does not reduce cognitive or sensory capabilities. While its progression is highly variable, the expected lifespan at the point of diagnosis ranges from two to five years as of 2015. The cause of ALS is currently unknown, but genetic mutations may play a role.
Although ALS is not curable, treatments are available to slow the progression of the disease and manage its symptoms, ASHA notes. In some cases, the medication Riluzole may be able to slow down ALS. Clinical teams dedicated to managing neuromuscular disorders provide effective symptom management.