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Mar 3, 2008
Loved one DX
I had a question regarding immune systems. It seems that since my Dad's ALS diagnoses, his immune system has gotten much weaker. He has been so sick for the past month with numerous head colds and Flu's. He is currently in the hospital because his stomach flu got so bad that he could not eat and vomiting was so hard for him due to his weak abdominal muscles. I am so worried about him. Is it normal for the immune system to weaken as ALS progresses?

Hi Jessica,
I don't know if it's normal for the immune system to weaken, but I know that my husband is very susceptable to more bugs than he was before he had ALS. He never got sick before, but seems to pick up everything now. I tell people to not visit if they aren't feeling well, and if I'm not feeling up to snuff I wear a mask and wash my hands a lot!
My GP insists I get the flu shot every year and the pneumonia shot is 5 years if I recall. So far no serious ills in 4 years. Maybe 1 mild cold per year.

My Father has been in the hospital since Monday and so far, the Doctors are at a loss for his symptoms. His ALS Dr. is very worried becuase my Dad has lost a tremedous amount of weight over the last month. His constant nausea and vomiting have prevented him from eating. He has no appetite and we are all so worried. They have taken him off all his ALS med's. The Doctor thinks the rilutek may be the cause...but he has been on it since February. Could it all of a sudden cause this? They are monitoring him for now, but if he does not start to consume 2,000 calories a day, they are going to put in a feeding tube. I am so worried that this long stay in the hospital is going to make my Dad loose even more mobility. I am praying that he comes home soon.
My husband is also having problems with his immune system. Which in turn as his care taker, I have not mastered the art of caring for someone and not picking up every sniffle he gets. He keeps an upper respirator infection as well as shingles. Nothing seems to get rid of either entirely. Has anyone heard of ALS patients suffering with shingles too?


I googled and found this!

Shingles is a condition caused by the Varicella zoster or chicken pox virus. After you get the chicken pox, the virus becomes dormant inside of certain nerve cells next to the spinal cord known as dorsal root ganglion cells. Sometimes, due to stress, old age, another infection or for no reason at all, the dormsant viruses in these nerve cells reactivate and reinfect you, spreading along all the nerve endings that arise from the particular batch of nerve cells in which the virus has reactivated. This produces a usually excruciatingly painful, red, bandlike area of rash on one side of the body, most often somewhere in the chest or abdomen in a half-belt like fashion. Rarely, in addition to the virus spreading outward along the nerve endings to the skin, the viruses can spread backwards into the spinal cord itself, and infect it, causing weakness, twitches (fasciculations) and wasting away of muscles in the affected areas, imitating ALS. This condition is called zoster myelitis. Unlike ALS, however, it is usually a time limited and space limited (focal) process, but damage can be quite extensive and even permanent if treatment to stop the spread of the virus (with a medication like acyclovir or gancyclovir) is not initiated immediately upon recognition of these types of symptoms. Please remember that information provided on the forum is intended for general medical informational purposes only, and that the actual diagnosis and treatment of your specific medical condition should be strictly in conjunction with your treating physician(s). If you would be interested in a formal second opinion evaluation for your individual case at the Cleveland Clinic, the number is 1-800-223-2273 extension 45559. We hope you find the information helpful.

Good Lord! Wouldn't it be wonderful if it were really the shingles virus causing your husband's problems?
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