ALS CENTER

How Is ALS Treated? - Page 2

By Stephanie Watson @WatsonWriter
 | 
November 10, 2016

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis treatments

Treatment for ALS involves a combination of medications and therapy.

Drugs that treat ALS

Two medicines are FDA-approved to treat ALS.

  • Riluzole (Rilutek) was the first drug approved for ALS. It can slow the progress of the disease, and delay the need for a breathing tube. Rilutek comes in a tablet that you take twice a day. Side effects include dizziness, fatigue, upset stomach, fatigue, muscle aches, and appetite loss.
  • Edaravone (Radicava) was approved in 2017. It slows nerve damage, reducing the speed of physical decline from the disease. You take Radicava as an infusion 10 to 14 days in a row, once a month. The most common side effects are bruising and changes in gait (walk).

Medicines to control ALS symptoms

A few other drugs help relieve amyotrophic lateral sclerosis symptoms (your doctor will work with you to find the right combination that works for you):

  • Rigid muscles — baclofen (Lioresal), tizanidine (Zanaflex)
  • Pain — NSAIDs, gabapentin, tramadol (Ultram), ketorolac (Toradol), morphine, fentanyl patch
  • Drooling — amitriptyline, botulinum toxin type B (Myobloc)
  • Thick mucus — guaifenesin (Mucinex, Robitussin)
  • Depression — citalopram (Celexa) and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Incontinence — tolderodine (Detrol)

If you’re having trouble breathing, your doctor can surgically insert a tube in the front of your neck. A respirator will be attached to the tube to help you breathe. This is called mechanical ventilation.

 

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Updated:

November 10, 2017

Reviewed By:

Christopher Nystuen, MD, MBA