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MS and Asthma

In our MS In America 2017 survey, 15% of respondents noted that they live with both MS and asthma. Asthma is a common lung disorder that is characterized by swollen, inflamed airways that causes difficulty breathing. Asthma may be triggered by allergens, changes in weather, viruses, or certain chemicals.1

Thirty-five percent of the respondents in our MS In America 2017 survey said they have experienced respiratory or breathing problems. While this may include those who have asthma, this data shows a significant portion of our community experiences lung issues, which may or may not be related to their MS.

About chronic lung disease and MS

One Canadian research study that included over 10 years of health data found that chronic lung disease, which includes asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is higher among people with MS than among those without the autoimmune disease. Chronic lung disease can cause significant health problems and may worsen the progression of MS. The symptoms of chronic lung disease, most notably difficulty breathing, can cause more disability and reduced quality of life, and it is frequently a cause of death among people with MS. Research is ongoing to determine why people with MS have more chronic lung disease. By gaining more of an understanding of the biological processes that cause chronic lung disease, better treatment options can be identified and developed.2

What you can do

If you have asthma or other breathing difficulties, talk to your doctor about treatment options. There are several medications that can help make breathing easier. In addition, experts recommend avoiding smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke. Smoking is a risk factor for multiple forms of chronic lung disease. Many people are aware of triggers that can cause an asthma attack, including pet dander, mold, pollen, air pollution, or cold air, and avoiding these triggers as much as possible can help reduce symptoms and reduce the need for asthma medications.1,2

About MS In America

The MS In America 2017 survey was conducted online and included over 5,300 people living with MS and 275 caregivers. The 2017 survey illustrates the challenges both patients and caregivers face as they navigate the journey of diagnosis, symptom management, relapses, treatment decisions, and the effect of MS on their lives and emotions.

1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Expert panel report 3 (EPR-3): Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of asthma - Full Report 2007. Available at Accessed 10/16/17. 2. Marrie RA, Patten S, Tremlett H, et al. Chronic lung disease and multiple sclerosis: Incidence, prevalence, and temporal trends. Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders. 2016 Jul;8:86-92.


  • potter
    2 years ago

    I have been told by doctors that I am asthmatic, usually they were doctors treating my son for asthma. Since I have been diagnosed with MS I have severe allergic reaction to allergens in the air. I just instantly stop breathing, no signs of coughing or sniffles, no air. If I can get away from the allergen then I am alright I have only had to go to the hospital once so far. The hospital told me I had a severe Asthma attack but my neuro told me that is not the case. He said my immune system is in hyper drive and it thinks I am being attacked so it shuts down my breathing to protect me. I have to carry a EPI pen with me now. Potter

  • LuvMyDog
    2 years ago

    I have asthma………and MS………and……….not much I can do about. Pulmonary doc’s treat lung disorders without much success most of the time. Neuro’s watch MS, make suggestions, but since they are not suffering with it, are not much help either.
    The last pulmonary specialist I saw told me that my lungs are not inflating as well as they should, muscle problem, most likely due to MS? He doesn’t even know. Neither does any other doctor.

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