Thousands of people around the world, including celebrities, from David Beckham, Lilly Allen, Jennifer Lopez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Niall Horan, Justin Bieber, Fifth Harmony, and Katy Perri to Kendrick Lamar, Britney Spears, Chris Brown, Demi Lovato, Lady Gaga and  Drake, soaking themselves in ice cold water to support people living with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

According to the ALS Association, the Ice Bucket Challenge has raised more than $53.3 million as of Tuesday, August 21. The money will be used to provide assistance to patients who have been diagnosed with ALS as well as to fund research for new ways to treat and ultimately cure the degenerative disease.

The challenge is obviously a huge success, but what’s worrying is that some people are more concerned in following the trend, nominating their friends on social media, without really knowing what the disease is.

There are few things you should know about the neuron disease called ALS in the US and MND in the UK.

 

What is ALS?

Definition of ALS according to the disease’s association:

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)  is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralysed.

 

Is it curable?

Although the association wants to find new ways to treat its patients, the neurodegenerative disease is incurable. An FDA-approved drug called Riluzole may help reduce neurological damage, but only for a short period of time.

 

Is it contagious?

ALS/MND can strike anyone, but isn’t contagious. It occurs throughout the world with no racial, ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries.

 

What happens after the diagnosis? 

What people ignore is that the patient only has two to five years to live after the diagnosis.

 

What are the symptoms?

– muscle weakness (hands, arms, legs or the muscles of speech)

– swallowing or breathing difficulties

– twitching and cramping of muscles (hands and feet)

– impairment of the use of the arms and legs

– difficulty in speaking and projecting the voice

 

What can you do to help? 

If you really want to offer ALS patients support, you should first of all know that their disease can’t get cured with a video where you’re soaking yourself with iced water.

– Share ALS facts on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to raise awareness.

– Donate, even a cent counts. (You can even donate online <PRESS HERE>)

– Pray for them, they need it.