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How does amyotrophic lateral sclerosis cause breathing problems?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) weakens the muscles necessary for breathing: the diaphragm and the intercostals. These muscles expand and contract beneath and beside the lungs, respectively. As ALS progresses, breathing becomes more difficult and less automatic. The extra energy necessary for breathing is a major source of fatigue. Ultimately, respiratory failure is the primary cause of death associated with ALS.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.