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trying to stay positive

Distinguished member
Sep 17, 2007
Chicago area
My husband tells me that his ability to cough is not as strong as it was before this stupid ALS. He is not stuggling or choking, but he notices that his cough has weakened. During dinner tonight, he had that "strange uncomfortable" look and I asked him if he was having an anxiety attack. (he had complained of being shaky earlier today - side effect of the prozac he started 10 days ago?) He said yeah, he kind of was having one. Now, several hours later, he says the attack has passed, but he is short of breath.

I guess my question is this.....Does the weakened cough and shortness of breath (which is not continuous) signal the beginnings of respiratory &/or swallowing difficulties? He has had no problems with choking when eating or drinking and his voice is still strong.

Thanks for any input. It seems that no matter how I try to prepare for the challenges of this disease, things still seem to catch me off guard!

It sounds as tho he was having the residual effects of a panic attack.
My shortness of breath developed slowly over time. At first I would wake with just breathing kind of quickly. Now, a few months later, I feel as if something is sitting on my chest. This was the hardest sypmtom to get used to, for me. So many times I was ready to ask for anti-anxiety meds but by the time the appointment came up I was used to it.

My SOB-ness causes nausea, for me, this is the hardest to take. I find breath stacking helps a little.
Linda, my son, in his final days, his cough had weakened quite a bit, you could barely hear him coughing. It was like someone had turned to volume down low, that I can remember. God bless you guys!

Breathing a bit better

Thanks everyone, for the replys. My hubby is doing better today as far as the shortness of breath goes. He took an ativan last night and after awhile it seemed to have helped. He does get short of breath everyday with exertion, but I suppose that is to be expected.

His weakened cough is concerning me though. Since he mentioned it, I have been really paying attention and it is quite a bit weaker. Anyone have any thoughts on what to expect next? Which muscles does this indicate weakness in?

Have I mentioned lately that I hate this @#*! disease?:(

HI Linda,
My husabnds cough has been week for awhile, this is the diaphram weakening. you use this muscle for breathing and coughing. My husband is short of breath at nite uses bipap. His cough and speech has
changed. He slurrs his words and does occasionally choke on fluids and food. He does not want a feeding
tube or a trach. He was diagnosed in now 06 and is still able to stand with help for short times. I know this news
is not pleasant for anyone, just watch for choking it can be very scary. May god bless you and yours.
sheryl wife of scottie.
what to do when hubby chokes?

Can anyone tell me what to do when choking occurs? I know the heimlich for solid foods, but what do you do when a Pals is choking on liquids or saliva?

Since his cough is weakening, does that mean choking may be starting soon?

Thanks for helping...........I am just not ready for this!:(

Can't get to the link

Hi CJ,
Unfortunately, I am unable to access the link. It keeps closing my Internet Explorer. Tried copy & paste. Same thing. Went to the site via typing in the general address. That worked, but when I found the choking and saliva link & clicked it, it closed my IE yet again! :-? Thanks anyway!
Linda, can your doctor order a suction machine? They are not meant for deep suctioning, although it can be done, it poses some of it's own hazards. A resp therapist should be able to train you. They generally will come with a standard hard tip, the machine is small, about the size of a large purse, and works exactly like the suction the dentist uses on you, with the same hard suction tip. However, I also asked for softer, smaller catheter tip for deeper suctioning, if need be. The smaller cath is a soft silicone like material, the best way I can describe it is it is about the texture of wet spaghetti. My husband had a very scary choking episode a month or so ago, where I really thought he wouldn't make it thru the night. I got the suction machine right after that.
Also, suggest he tucks his chin to his chest when swallowing liquids - that helps my husband a lot. The other thing you can try is thickening his liquids with a commercial thickening product, like "thickit". It is odorless and tasteless, but thickens liquids - making them more manageable.
Has your husband had a swallow study? My husband had one a month or two ago, I watched the process with the radiologist, gave me a much better idea of what is happening when he tries to swallow.
This disease sure is rotten... prayers are with you and ALL of us!
Andrea - wife of Pals Jim.
CJ (who also responded to you on this thread) responded to a similar thread where someone had asked about the Cough Assist machine. Here is her reply which includes a link to a YouTube video which describes the machine. I found it very helpful. (I hope you don't mind my pasting your reply here, CJ.)

"The cough assist machine can be used in the home. My husband uses one (not as often as he should). When he uses it, he says it helps him tremendously for the rest of the day.

This video is good to watch for explanation of how cough assist works:

YouTube- Cough Assist Mechanical In-Exsufflator // In-Exsuflador Mecânico Cough Assist

Good luck
CJ - wife of PALS"

All the best to you and your husband, Linda.
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