On my way to visit my sister back in December, we stopped to eat lunch. I started coughing, had a little tickle in my throat. That coughing started to get worse and worse because it was making no progress. I literally started to choke. I was finally given some water and was able to produce the cough that moved the phlegm or whatever was in my throat causing me to cough to begin with. I was shaking by the end of this, scared my mom too. However this wasn’t the first time this has happened but this was the worst and scariest it ever was. I’ve never discussed this symptom yet with anyone but it scares the hell out of me because this is a serious and dangerous one.
According to www.netdoctors.com:
Coughing is a reflex action started by stimulation of sensory nerves in the lining of the respiratory passages – the tubes we use to breathe.
When a person coughs, there is a short intake of breath and the larynx (the voice box) closes momentarily. The abdominal and chest muscles used for breathing contract, which in turn increases the pressure needed to drive air out the lungs when the larynx re-opens.
The resulting blast of air comes out at high speed, scrubbing and clearing the airway of dust, dirt or excessive secretions. Coughing is a common symptom when the airways are ‘tight’, as in asthma.
Breathing problems in MS can be caused by one or more of the following factors:
Sensory Problems. MS-related breathing problems may be the result of abnormal respiratory sensory information involving 1) respiratory pressure (abnormal pressure in the lungs), 2) airflow, and 3) motion of the lungs and chest wall.
Muscle Weakness. Many people with MS score low on measures of respiratory muscle strength, such as mouth pressure tests. Mouth pressure measures the functioning and strength of respiratory muscles by testing maximum inspiratory (breathing in) pressures and maximum expiratory (exhaling) pressures. These have been shown to be between 60% and 70% of normal even in patients with low MS-related disability.
Side-effects of Medications. Some drugs prescribed to help with MS-related pain or spasticity (muscle tightness or stiffness) can cause slower, shallower breathing. These include muscle relaxants, tranquilizers, and opioid-based pain medications.
Aspiration Pneumonia. MS-related swallowing difficulties or inability to clear mucus from the nose or throat may lead to aspiration pneumonia, which can occur when liquid, mucus, and/or food particles enter the lungs.
How Severe Can the Breathing Problems Get?
It is extremely rare that MS-related breathing difficulties become life threatening or so severe that the person requires breathing assistance (breathing tubes or supplemental oxygen).
However, even fairly mild breathing problems can cause severe fatigue, further contributing to MS-related fatigue. In addition, the feeling that you can’t get enough air can lead to panic attacks and severe anxiety.
It is all the results of the same thing. Damage to the nerves, weakness in the muscles except these are muscles you don’t see. I’ve always laughed saying I have no core muscle to my fitness trainer. Basically what it is, is my muscles in my stomach are so weak that they can’t support the weight of my body in a crunch or a sit up. It isn’t from lack of trying. It isn’t from lack of working out either. The internal nerves have damage, there is only so much I can do. I have to roll onto my side to get out of my bed, I can’t just sit up from a laying down position, now the stomach has been like this for years, the chest muscles and diaphram muscles that’s more new. To have a cough that brings up phlegm or clears the pathway takes a lot more focus and time. It takes me taking a big deep breath and many times it requires three, four or five times until it clears the pathway. I’m terrified if I actually get bronchitis or a pneumonia. It’s scary as hell and I don’t know what to do about it. I’m 45 years old. This is a dangerous symptom this can affect my breathing or block my breathing as it did momentarily that day in December. Multiple sclerosis isn’t just about walking difficulties and coordination problems, there are some very serious problems and complications too. I know now I need to discuss this with my doctors because it’s no joke. I just was dealing with it as a nuisance until that day. As always relief is felt when I looked up this topic and found that it is rare for it to become life threatening, knowledge is power. However doing nothing isn’t an answer either. I learned something today from my own blog, I hope someone else does too.