What options are there?
An overview of the range of options for breathing support and chest health in MND/ALS
Weakness of the breathing muscles in MND/ALS causes two main issues. First – not enough air gets into the lungs so gas exchange is less effective. Gas exchange is getting oxygen into the body and the waste carbon dioxide out. Secondly – cough strength is reduced, increasing the risk of chest infections.
Ventilation helps increase air flow into the lungs and supports gas exchange. Research on non-invasive ventilation (NIV) has shown it can improve quality of life and increase life expectancy by several months. Much of the myBreathing website focuses upon NIV as it is commonly used.
Invasive ventilation via a tracheostomy is also used within the UK, but currently much less often. As it works on the same principles as NIV, it offers similar benefits. See Considering a Tracheostomy for more information.
There are other approaches that help to reduce the risk of chest infections. These include physiotherapy exercises and cough assist machines. Medications are also very helpful. See Key Definitions for explanations of new terms.
Remember: It is your choice about the treatments you use and don’t use, and when you start them. Learning about them helps inform your choice.