What respiratory problems are common in advanced MS?
A common symptom of MS is muscle weakness which may affect the muscles that control breathing. Muscle weakness can make breathing difficult and shallow breathing may contribute to pneumonia. Muscle weakness can also affect swallowing which may lead to aspiration pneumonia. It’s important to remember that patients with MS may have difficulty fighting infection caused by bacteria or viruses.
What are early signs of respiratory muscle weakness?
Symptoms may be subtle such as shortness of breath or a gradual increase in coughing when the person with advanced MS eats or drinks fluids. Increased coughing or total obstruction of the airway may occur when eating solids. Medications that cause drowsiness may affect a person’s ability to control swallowing as well. Or symptoms might emerge when the muscles that control breathing are under increased pressure, such as when you may be standing in chest-high water.
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Living with Advanced MS: Respiratory Care