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J Neurol Sci. 1996 Aug;139 Suppl:43-4.

The control of oral secretions in bulbar ALS/MND.

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Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Canada.


For the bulbar ALS/MND patient with dysphagia, the accumulation of oral secretions is a distressing problem. The control of these secretions, particularly the thick mucus form, is very difficult. In approaching this problem it is important to realise that the source of these secretions is not just from the oral salivary glands. The nose and lungs also contribute a constant flow of serous and particularly mucoid fluids. The neural control of these different forms of secretion is of importance in controlling them. Stimulation of cholinergic receptors produces thin serous secretions whereas beta adrenergic receptors produce thick protein and mucus-rich secretions. Therefore 16 bulbar ALS/MND patients were treated with beta antagonists after maximising other therapy. 75% of this group had fast and significant relief from their thick secretions. It is therefore proposed to perform a large controlled trial of beta blockers in the control of thick oral secretions in ALS/MND based on these promising pilot data.

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