Q. I have multiple sclerosis with shortness of breathe. Could paint spray fumes be the cause?

Answered by
Dr. Md Faiz Akram
and medically reviewed by Dr. Vinodhini. J
This is a premium question & answer published on Jan 19, 2020 and last reviewed on: Jan 23, 2020

Hello doctor,

I have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I never traveled to a foreign country. I have been unprotected from paint chemicals for over a year. I use a mask that was not NIOSH approved. The spray that I have been using is 341g. A test shows that 36 pounds of chemicals have been inhaled (like I was inhaler on drugs). That is from the paint spray itself. I would see things which were not there. I experience numbness and tingliness in the right side of the face, bottom of the right hand, and right bottom foot. I also have shortness of breath. I highly belive this a case of multiple sclerosis symptom. I know it is uncommon, but can certain spray chemical give this symptom? I do not want to be misdiagnosed, I have got kids my health and life is depended on.

Dr. Md Faiz Akram

Pharmacology Toxicology


Welcome to icliniq.com.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease in which an abnormal response of body’s immune system is directed against the nervous system (brain, spinal cord and optic nerves). The immune system of the body mistakenly attacks the myelin sheath the protective coating around the nerves.

The cause of MS is still not known, it is believed that several different factors may be involved. Mainly immune-mediated but genetic and some environmental factors have a role. Although some studies have claimed to have a relation between MS and some substances used in paints, etc. But not as spray substance. Otherwise also these studies are not giving a strong scientific basis. These are simple reports that need to be confirmed further before reaching on conclusion.

The long contact with some paints can cause neurological symptoms and numbness. But mostly it is reversible.

Coming to your problem, you have written I have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. If it is by a competent specialist then I will not comment anything on the diagnosis. What is MRI and CSF results? Anyway, it can only be judged along with physical examination and signs and symptoms. But some of the symptoms are fatigue progressively leading activity limitation, numbness, weakness, walking difficulty, vision problem, urinary problem, bowel problem, cognitive emotional and depressive changes, and respiratory problem if chest muscle gets weakened.

As you have apprehension about painting work so the best option for you is to search for some other job even if it is not proved that inhalation of painting is a cause of MS.

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