Dehydration, a possible ALS trigger?

March 5, 2019

I wanted to bring up a possible trigger to get feedback from my fellow pALS. I feel like severe dehydration could be one possible trigger for ALS. One of the reasons I bring this up because it is known that military veterans and NFL players have a much higher prevalence of ALS diagnosis than the general population. Our military personnel are put through intense physical training that often results in dehydration. When deployed they may find themselves without access to clean drinking water. In the NFL, coaches used to famously withhold water from players as motivation during training camp. It’s not uncommon for players to need IV fluids due to cramping during the game. Just in the past few years we’ve learned of several former players diagnosed ALS, including Tim Shaw, Steve Gleason, Kevin Turner, O.J. Brigance, Dwight Clark, and Tim Green, among others. And now a recent study, #AAN2019, that shows professional soccer players are twice as likely to develop ALS than the general population.

While I’ve never been an elite athlete, I’ve always been active. I grew up in the 1970’s when we weren’t reminded enough about drinking water and replacing electrolytes. I’d often be hiking or doing long bicycle rides (75 miles or more) with just one bottle of water, and then would find myself cramping later that evening. As I grew older, I was better about trying to remain hydrated. But in 2007, during a beach volleyball tournament, I became severely dehydrated. I cramped terribly in nearly every muscle in my body. I was rushed to the ER, and received 3 liters of IV fluids. Since then, I tend to cramp very easily. Cramps in my sides are very common after even minor exercise where I sweat. I began experiencing slurred speech and muscle weakness in April of 2015, and was diagnosed with ALS in October of that year. I can’t help but suspect if these items are related. I would love to hear from fellow pALS if they have any similar experience.

 

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