Living with M.S.

"Living with M.S. is sort of like training for a long race. The harder you try, and the longer you keep at it, the stronger you become.
Eventually, looking back, you may be amazed at the power you possessed, even when you had no idea it was within your reach." (Linda Ann Nickerson)


Retching - Facing MS symptoms from A to Z

Readers may recoil at the thought, but retching is an actual symptom for many people who live with multiple sclerosis. Maybe it goes along with the swallowing difficulties (known as dysphagia) and the heightened gag reflex that can be associated with MS. 

On the other hand, some MSers experience a diminished gag reflex, which can be a hazard of an altogether different sort.

Some medical experts point to MS demyelination and potential numbness in the throat as a cause for increased gagging and retching. Others blame mixed or dulled neurological signals, which might lead to an unpleasant cycle of gagging and retching that can be difficult to calm. Toss in a head or chest cold, some seasonal allergies, a bad reaction to a new medication, a case of food poisoning, a bout with anxiety, or the flu, and the situation only grows more acute.

For whatever reason, retching is one of those irritating MS symptoms that doctors generally fail to mention. That sort of makes it even more disturbing when it occurs.

Because choking and respiratory disease (such as pneumonia) can be particularly hazardous to MSers (especially those with the more progressive forms of the disease), retching and gagging may be profoundly problematic.

Various medications and home remedies may help with gagging and retching. Some people swear by applying pressure to certain body points or squeezing one thumb tightly inside the fist. Others claim a pinch of salt, applied directly to the tongue, will do the trick. Still others encourage the use of over-the-counter throat-numbing sprays, although caution may be warranted with MSers who deal with choking issues.

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Series title graphic adapted from public domain artwork.

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