June 11, 2010, Newsletter Issue #74: Bulbar-onset ALS

Tip of the Week

There are many ways in which this disease can affect the facial area. The face is innervated by a variety of cranial nerves, some of which are located in the lower part of the brain called the medulla or “bulb”. Injury or problems to this area will produce the condition known as “spastic bulbar palsy”.

As stated briefly before, symptoms ssociated with spastic bulbar palsy include difficulty with swallowing, speaking, or chewing food. Some might have problems with being able to completely close their eyelids or mouth. While another common feature of spastic bulbar palsy is drooling, which is causes embarrassment to the person. The tongue can also experience fasciculations or tremors, and develop a wavy pattern.

Other symptoms of spastic bulbar palsy include the aspiration of food, which means choking when food enters the trachea or windpipe. Bulbar-onset ALS is seen in a small percentage of ALS patients.

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