Tim Green diagnosis and signs you should watch for

In a very personal note to his Facebook followers Wednesday night, former pro football player Tim Green revealed he was diagnosed with ALS.

As word of Green’s diagnosis started to spread, his Facebook page was inundated with well wishes.

“Prayers that they find a cure in time for you,” one person wrote. “Time you’re a true role model to so many. Keep pushing forward,” wrote another.

Another person commended Green for having the courage to come forward publicly. “Brave of you to share you story to help educate others. Prayers to you and your family,” the person wrote. “If anyone can beat it, you can. You have accomplished so much. More than most people could do in 3 lifetimes. Keep fighting,” another said.

According to the ALS Association, Green is one of more than 5,000 people in the U.S. who are diagnosed with the disease every year. That is 15 new cases each day.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is a progressive nervous system (neurological) disease that destroys nerve cells and causes disability. It is often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the famous baseball player who was diagnosed with it.

Most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 70. An estimated 60% of people with ALS are men and 93% are caucasian. It is more common in people as they get older. Doctors do not know what causes it, but it can be inherited. There is no cure for it, and eventually the disease is fatal.

Here are early warning signs to look out for according to the Mayo Clinic:

– Difficulty walking or doing your normal daily activities

– Tripping and falling

– Weakness in your leg, feet or ankles

– Hand weakness or clumsiness

– Slurred speech or trouble swallowing

– Muscle cramps and twitching in your arms, shoulders and tongue

– Difficulty holding your head up or keeping good posture

ALS often starts in the hands, feet or limbs, and then spreads to other parts of your body. As the disease advances and nerve cells are destroyed, your muscles progressively weaken. This eventually affects chewing, swallowing, speaking and breathing.

In 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge brought worldwide attention to ALS. People shared videos online of water being dumped on their head. The campaign helped raise more than $115 million for the cause. It helped scientists discover a new gene tied to ALS.