Grammy-winning singer Roberta Flack has been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and is no longer able to sing.

The sad news was announced by the singer's representatives Monday who said that Flack's condition "has made it impossible to sing and not easy to speak."

But fans need not be discouraged as "it will take a lot more than ALS to silence this icon," the singer's representatives said, adding that the 85-year-old has "plans to stay active in her musical and creative pursuits."

ALS is a disease of the nervous system which affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord causing loss of muscle control. Also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, named after a baseball player who retired in 1939 because of the disease, ALS affects the function of the nerve cells and kills them, making the muscles weak, resulting in paralysis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

Doctors do not know what causes the disease but in some cases, ALS is inherited. ALS begins with muscle twitching and weakness in a limb or slurred speech. It affects the muscles needed for movement, speech, eating and breathing. There is currently no cure for the disease, which is fatalistic, according to Mayo Clinic.

This disease is more common in men than in women and is age-related. Patients usually find out they have the disease between 55 and 75 and depending on their age, may live for two to five years after the symptoms manifest.

CDC said those who are younger tend to live slightly longer than those who are already of advanced age when they are diagnosed with the disease.

Signs and symptoms of ALS include difficulty in walking or doing daily activities, tripping and falling, weakness in limbs, hand weakness or clumsiness, difficulty in swallowing, slurred speech, muscle cramps, twitching in arms, shoulders and tongue, and tight or stiff muscles.

A documentary about Flack is set to premiere in New York next week. She will also release a children's book in January which coincides with the 50thanniversary of her fourth album "Killing Me Softly With His Song," which was released in 1973.

Representational image (hospital patient)
Representational image (Source: Pixabay / Parentingupstream)