Respiratory Care

In this section you will find information and ideas for preventing and managing respiratory problems. Not all persons with advanced MS will develop respiratory problems; however, if they do, these problems can be serious and even life threatening unless Care Givers are educated and prepared. Being aware of what to look for, and knowledgeable of how to treat these problems, will give you greater confidence in preventing crises associated with the respiratory tract. It may be helpful to have good contact with your HSE Chartered PhysiotherapistSpeech and Language Therapist  and PHN; these can be sourced from your local health centre.  

What are respiratory problems that are common in advanced MS?

MS can cause weakness of muscles used for breathing. When muscles are weakened, respiration can become laboured. Decreased mobility can contribute to pneumonia. People with MS can have difficulty fighting bacteria and viruses. Aspiration pneumonia is a serious complication which results from problems with swallowing and is common in advanced MS. Problems can begin very subtly or happen “out of the blue.” You might notice a gradual increase in coughing when feeding fluids or solid foods. Total obstruction of the airway may suddenly occur when feeding solids. Certain medications that cause drowsiness such as Valium® can affect the ability to manage anything taken by mouth.

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