Mon-Fri 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM

How ALS Affects Your Lung Health

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is a progressive nervous system disease affecting nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, triggering muscle weakness. Also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the baseball player was diagnosed on his 36th birthday in 1939, ALS has no known cure. The symptoms often start with muscle twitching, limb weakness, or slurred speech. Over time, the disease progresses, affecting the muscles involved in moving, speaking, eating, and breathing. Researchers aren’t sure what causes ALS, but they believe that both genetic and environmental factors play a role. 

ALS and your lung health 

Breathing difficulties are one of the primary complications of ALS, posing a lung health risk. In fact, respiratory failure is the most common cause of death among people with ALS. The chest muscles and diaphragm involved in breathing gradually become paralyzed, either as one of the first symptoms or over time with disease progression. Many people with ALS use devices to help them breathe, especially at night during sleep. 

How ALS affects your lung health: 

  • Nerve signals from the brain to respiration muscles are lost
  • Breathing muscles weaken with fewer nerve signals, causing respiratory difficulty
  • Respiratory therapies are needed to provide lung health support 

In the next section, discover which type of respiratory therapy is proven to work particularly well for people with ALS.

Respiratory therapy to promote lung health for people with ALS 

A significant part of managing ALS symptoms is through supportive care, including respiratory therapies for lung health. According to a respiratory medical journal, noninvasive ventilation (NIV) can profoundly prolong survival, often markedly better than pharmaceutical drug therapies. A randomized trial also showed that NIV could improve the quality of life for people with mild weakness of the bulbar muscles involved in chewing, further adding to the appeal of ventilator therapy.

NIV is a type of respiratory therapy that can be used at home, offering ventilator support through the upper airways without using invasive artificial airways, such as endotracheal tubes or tracheostomy. It uses a compact breathing device with a face mask or nasal cannulas that insert into your nostrils. 

NIV helps to:

  • Compensate for diaphragm weakness
  • Alleviate hypercapnic symptoms
  • Improve your overall condition and quality of life

Because of these positive effects on lung health and overall health, many medical experts regard NIV as an essential therapeutic component in ALS.

Keep reading to discover the types of ventilators that can deliver NIV therapy in the comfort of your own home.

Home ventilators for ALS 

Whether equipped with tried-and-true or the latest and greatest technologies, home ventilators can provide life-enhancing respiratory support and promote lung health for people with ALS. There are many types of home ventilators that you and your medical team may consider, including: 

  • LTV ventilators – The first commercial home ventilator, these laptop ventilators (LTV) are best known for their compact size and reliable respiratory technology.
  • Trilogy ventilators – Featuring advanced Philips Respironics-patented BiPAP and CPAP ventilation, Trilogy home ventilators are another way to promote lung health for people with ALS.
  • Astral ventilators – Boasting newer technology like Trilogy, ResMed Astral ventilators can deliver critical ventilation therapy in a portable design.
  • VC ventilators – These multi-function units include both ventilation and cough stimulation, eliminating the need to switch between machines.

Home ventilators come with plenty of advantages to people with ALS. Besides promoting lung health and quality of life, health insurance or Medicare often covers these home machines. Home ventilators are also relatively compact and easy to handle, rounding out the many health, financial, and lifestyle benefits of NIV therapy at home. 

Finding a home ventilator supplier

When it comes to choosing a home ventilator to support your lung health, look for a respiratory equipment supplier that provides:

  • The most trusted home ventilators and the latest technologies for your ALS care
  • Thorough set-up and use instructions from seasoned respiratory therapists
  • 24/7 emergency support for peace of mind for you and your family and caretakers
  • Expert collaboration with your medical team for seamless care for your lung health 

With highly trained respiratory therapists on staff, high-quality equipment you can trust, and 24/7 emergency services to support your ALS journey, we’re here for all your lung health needs. Contact us to learn more about our robust offerings that are conveniently delivered right to your door.

How ALS Affects Your Lung Health