Respiration or breathing is primarily under the control of the autonomic or “automatic” nervous system. This is the part of the central nervous system that controls vital functions, such as heartbeat, without conscious thought. It is rare for MS to affect the autonomic nervous system, and therefore uncommon for breathing problems to occur in MS as a direct result of loss of autonomic control.


But in the minority of MS patients who become very severely disabled, breathing problems can occur. People with MS who have difficulty breathing due to weakness of chest muscles often benefit from:

·        breathing exercises and devices that encourage deep breathing (incentive spirometers);

·        sitting upright (rather than lying flat);

·        chest percussion, which involves tapping lightly on the chest to loosen secretions.


Breathing problems can also occur as a result of aspiration pneumonia.  Aspiration pneumonia can result from inability to clear secretions or from swallowing difficulties that cause food to be inhaled into the lungs. A swallowing evaluation will generally help patients who repeatedly take food into their lungs. Sometimes, a feeding tube is necessary to avoid continued risk of aspiration pneumonia.


Some medications, such as tranquilizers or muscle relaxers, can depress breathing. Their use should be carefully monitored in anyone with a history of respiratory distress.




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Veronica Davidson/ mommyv : founder and owner of Friends With   If your interested in information about MS please  Email me!  Or you can check out our yahoo newsgroup and read all of our previous postings.  All web links are on the Home page!