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Roberta Flack has been diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, TMZ reports.

The music icon is best known for her No. 1 singles “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, “Killing Me Softly with His Song”, “Feel Like Makin’ Love”; and “Where Is the Love” and “The Closer I Get to You.”

ALS is a degenerative neurological disease that affects some of the muscles in the body. The disease robs patients of their ability to move their arms and legs and eventually they are unable to eat or breathe.

As the disease progresses, the patient loses the ability to walk or feed herself. When the disease affects the muscles that control the diaphragm, the patient is unable to breathe without a ventilator.

ALS doesn’t affect all muscles. The heart and bladder are usually not affected.

ALS is a terminal illness that has no cure. The cause is unknown. Life expectancy is 3 years.

The disease is named after the baseball legend Lou Gehrig who was diagnosed with ALS in 1939 and died from the disease in 1941 at age 37.

Signs and Symptoms

Early symptoms of ALS includes weakness or numbness in one or both hands that makes it hard to grip or hold objects. The patient may also slur her words.

Other early symptoms include:

  • Difficulty speaking or slurred speech
  • Stumbling or falling
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Muscle pain and cramps
  • Difficulty holding your head up
  • Muscle stiffness