3 doctors weighed in:

Do ALS patients suffer painful, suffocating death?

3 doctors weighed in

In brief: My view

Yes, many ALS patients suffer pain, but they rarely suffocate, as typically, when needed, a tracheostomy tube is placed.
But demise can often be due to pneumonia.

In brief: My view

Yes, many ALS patients suffer pain, but they rarely suffocate, as typically, when needed, a tracheostomy tube is placed.
But demise can often be due to pneumonia.
Dr. Bennett Machanic
Dr. Bennett Machanic
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Dr. Michael DePietro
Internal Medicine - Pulmonary Critical Care

In brief: Not with care

While ALS is ultimately a fatal disease, patients can be treated both to prolong life and to ease discomfort.
For some patients wihen the breathing muscles are mildly affected a small machine with a mask called a bipap device can help a patient breath, mostly at night. With advanced disease when bipap is not feasible, etc meds like narcotics can ease air hunger. No one need feel suffocation ever.

In brief: Not with care

While ALS is ultimately a fatal disease, patients can be treated both to prolong life and to ease discomfort.
For some patients wihen the breathing muscles are mildly affected a small machine with a mask called a bipap device can help a patient breath, mostly at night. With advanced disease when bipap is not feasible, etc meds like narcotics can ease air hunger. No one need feel suffocation ever.
Dr. Michael DePietro
Dr. Michael DePietro
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Dr. Ed Friedlander
Pathology

In brief: Sometimes

An ALS person is more likely to die of pneumonia -- which a wise physician / family would not seek to treat.
Very weak people cannot protect their lungs from bacterial infection by coughing and breathing deeply. This is far less frightening than death purely from weakness, which actually would be slow suffocation.

In brief: Sometimes

An ALS person is more likely to die of pneumonia -- which a wise physician / family would not seek to treat.
Very weak people cannot protect their lungs from bacterial infection by coughing and breathing deeply. This is far less frightening than death purely from weakness, which actually would be slow suffocation.
Dr. Ed Friedlander
Dr. Ed Friedlander
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