How MND/ALS affects breathing

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How MND/ALS affects breathing

"I was waking up feeling very tired and with a headache"
- Ann

MND/ALS gradually weakens the muscles in the body. This also impacts the muscles used for breathing, making breathing less effective. This gradually progresses with the condition. The medical term for this is respiratory failure.

Learning about how we breathe and cough can help you to understand these changes. It can help you to understand how the treatments on offer can support you.

Breathing changes tend not to be noticeable at first as they start during sleep. When we are asleep our muscles become very relaxed. In MND/ALS this means the respiratory (breathing) muscles don’t work as effectively.

You probably won’t sleep as deeply and may wake up often through the night. You might not remember your dreams. In the day you may experience headaches and feel much more tired or emotional.

This weakening also affects the strength of your cough. You may not be able to clear your chest of mucus as easily. This can increase your risk of chest infections.

Did you know?  Your MND/ALS care team will do regular tests to detect any changes as early as possible. They will offer suitable treatments to manage your symptoms.