What Are the End Stages of ALS?

What are the end stages of ALS?

End-stage ALS occurs when muscles weaken to the point where vital systems are paralyzed and cannot function. Montgomery Hospice in Maryland lists the ability to breathe and swallow as crucial factors in end-of-life ALS:

  • Respiratory Failure – Breathing difficulty arises from the weakness of lung muscles and the diaphragm. Shortness of breath worsens as muscles become weaker. Breathing must eventually be assisted by using a BiPAP machine and then a mechanical ventilator. Patients who decline artificial ventilation are offered comfort and end-of-life care.
  • Swallowing Difficulty – Trouble swallowing occurs gradually in some patients, but can occur suddenly in others. Without the ability to swallow, eating and drinking becomes impossible, and dramatic weight loss occurs in many ALS cases. The only solution then becomes artificial feeding through a feeding tube or intravenous solution. Many who choose not to replace nutrition artificially seek hospice end-of-life care.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.