Skip to content

in this discussion +11 following Follow this discussion

My Dad COPD and CO2 retention


This is the first time I've done this, I'm hoping to find someone who understands what's happeneing to my father, He has COPD I think he is in the final stages, he has been on oxygen for about 18 months, and he keeps having episodes of CO2 retention, the last one was yesterday, he went into a kind of coma, and I thougt he was dying, but the hospital managed to bring him round eventually with this air machine and adrenalin, but he is now very muddled, seeing things that aren't there and angry, this is not the first time but it is the worst, I feel like he has had mild strokes, but no one seems to know. Is this normal? Does anyone know if this CO2 retention causes damage to the brain, as he seems to lose a little of himself with each time, when I left him at the hospital this afternoon he couldn't remember where he lived and he thought we had put him in a home. Does anyone know if this is part of COPD?


Report Share
Support this with a vote 1

15 Replies

  • Guest

    Hi, I have been working with a COPD sufferer full time for 2 years and for the prior 15 years part time (keeping a full time job and doing what I could after work and at weekends) in this time I have never seen CO2 retention.

    We have heard about it and been warned about it but it has never happened to us.

    You say dad is on oxygen , if the dose is too high that will effect the way the lungs work, they will only have to work in “shallow” breaths to give the body enough oxygen therefore will not blow out all the CO2 that will then build up in the body.

    As I see it, and please check with a doc before making any changes,

    You need to make sure your dad is getting the right dose of oxygen too much is worse than too little.

    Get a physiotherapist to teach you dad how the breath, that sounds daft but you will be surprised, deep breathing for a few mins 2 or 3 times a day will expel excess Co2

    One “test” that we use is to hold your arms out with your hands at 90 degrees (back of your hands facing you) if your hands tend to tilt back towards you then this could due be CO2 retention. Another test is the blood gas check they do in the A&E.

    Sorry I can’t be any more help at the mo but will do a bit of research and if anything new comes up I will post it. please let us know how you get on.


    0 votes Report Share reply to Guest

  • Tessa

    Thanks Gil,

    I went out in the car with my Husband for a meal at Sainsburys today.

    When we arrived home, I remembered what you said and I opened the car door and let the cold air in the car and sat there for a few minutes. Then when I felt ready I got out and stood up, but stood still for a few minutes. When I did walk up to the front door, amazingly I wasn't gasping for breath. Wonderful advice and it really works.


    0 votes Report Share reply to Tessa

  • Guest

    Thank you for taking the time to relply. Unfortunately my Dad passed away yesterday. He did used to turn his oxygen up when he felt he couldn't breath but we stopped him from doing that once we knew how bad it was, but the CO2 kept building up. He never came out of hospital this time.

    People on here seem to talk about having COPD for many years, my Dad was only diagnosed about 18 months ago, and he had stopped smoking about 10 years before.

    I feel sad but at least his suffering is now over

    0 votes Report Share reply to Guest

  • sianeira

    Dear Cherripip and all

    I am just trawling through some information to make sense of stuff. My mum died yesterday, COPD and like your Dad, CO2 retention and oxygen etc etc were an issue. She was sometimes confused, sometimes lucid, but mostly I know she knew we were there which is important for us, I don't think she was too aware of how gravely ill she was really - I hope not anyway.

    Best wishes to you, it is a difficult thing to go through.

    0 votes Report Share reply to sianeira

  • Tessa

    Dear Cherripip,

    May I say how very sorry I am to hear your sad news. It is a horrible thing to have to watch a loved one suffer in this way. Yes, some of us have COPD for many years and struggle through. I am sorry your Dad only had the 18 months.

    Now Cherrpip. you did all you could for him and now you have to look after yourself.


    May I offer my condolances on the loss of your Mother. I'm sure she knew you were there all the time and probably did not know quite how bad she was, but like I said to Cherripip, it is important that you look after yourself now. It's quite traumatic to see a loved one go like that.

    My Best wishes to you both and thank you for bringing the issue of CO2 retention to our notice. I had not heard of it before.

    Take care both of you


    0 votes Report Share reply to Tessa

  • Coughdrop

    Hi to everyone especially those who have lost loved ones to copd. I lost my sister 25th August this year so I know how you feel. She was diagnosed with cancer of the throat in May and what with the copd her body couldn't take anymore. She was too weak for chemo so her last few months were just taking morphine and tablets. I went to see her mid-sept (she lived in the north of england 250miles away) and I was glad I did. I knew then she wouldn't last long but it gave me a chance to talk, laugh, and cry with her one last time. She was taken into hospital with bronchitis and then moved to the hospice for pain relief. I rang on the Sunday and they said she was fine having a bit of dinner. Then Monday I rang spoke to the Dr who said she thinks shes had enough. So off I journied to see her, sadly she passed away before I got there. I can only say how relieved I was that she had finally left all pain behind. Although the shock and grief is still there, I comfort myself that she is with my Dad and Mum and her son. I really believe that the people who are ill know how they feel themselves. I like to think they find a kind of peace towards the end. It is the ones that are left behind who will always remember the worry and stress and hurts that they have been through. This is why it is most important to talk to somebody and look after yourselves as that is when you really feel drained of all feelings. Just try to think of the relief from suffering for your loved one and also yourself. Things will start to get back to normal as time goes on and one day you will wake and think of what you have to do today and not what has happened in the past. Take care all of you. Marie

    0 votes Report Share reply to Coughdrop

  • Bamperoony

    My wife and I both suffer from COPD although hers is much more severe than mine and she spends most of her time attached to her Oxygen concentrator except when she is sleeping. I always take her a cup of tea in the morning before I go to work and recently she has been telling me about hallucinations she has been having during the night. Since reading this experience I am starting to wonder, could she be suffering the early stages of CO2 retention and, if so, what can I do about it?

    0 votes Report Share reply to Bamperoony

  • Coughdrop

    Hi there

    If you look at its a web site that deals with all sorts of questions.

    You can put COPD in your search at the top for more info. If you put CO2 in to search you can read all about it. It tells you what it is and how it affects the body. You might find this useful reading. If you are that worried I would talk to your Dr, but sometimes reading up a little before hand helps you ask the right questions or understand the answers better.

    I hope this helps you a little. Take care.

    0 votes Report Share reply to Coughdrop

  • gil dixon

    Ok I have only just read this post and the advice below this is only based on what we have learnt and by monitoring anything we do.

    The body slows down when sleeping therefore takes in less O2 due to shallow respiratory function and slower hart beat.

    We found that without oxygen at night, every hour or so the sufferer woke up distressed and having bad dreams, we believe that the brain was being starved of oxygen and woke the person up to speed things up so it gets enough oxygen. We stopped this by using oxygen at night at 2L/min. we checked everything as we went along.

    We found that the blood oxygen was down to around 70 to 80% and the hart rate up around 120 without oxygen at night but with oxygen at 2L/min when sleeping the rates are 97 to 98% and hart rate around 79, the person also slept for 6 to 8 hours without any bad dreams .

    I suggest you try oxygen at 2L/min when sleeping, if you are on oxygen during the day it will not do any harm in fact we have found it has more benefits if used in this way.

    I have posted at length on this site about our findings in O2 usage, we have never had any problems with Co2 retention, we believe Co2 is retained if oxygen dosages are too high and or breathing patens are incorrect (short shallow breathing is bad) when relaxed the person should try to use deep breathing, long and slow, if only for a few mins at first.

    Hope this helps, a pulse ox monitor would be a handy tool to have, you can pick one up for around £60, in our case it has been a life saver more times than I could tell you


    0 votes Report Share reply to gil dixon

  • Guest


    my dad had copd and he suffered with co2 retention as well, from the things that happened to my dad, your dad sounds very smillar, we were told by the doctors that co2 retention does cause brain damage and i had to agree with them because by the end my dad was a very different person

    he lost his temper very easily, forgot alot

    the important thing is that they dont increase there oxygen to much as more o2 = more co2, we knew when he was retaining co2 as he would get even more confused looked very red and have purple lips, the important thing to rember is that co2 can kill if left unnotticed within 24 hours, so if your in doubt call either your community matrons or call the emergency services,

    is your dad using a machine called a BI-PAP because this helps force the co2 out the body over night and it did help improve my dads life a lot for a good few months

    i hope this helps!

    my dad passed away on the 31st/12/08

    and it was awful but i no he is at peace now

    0 votes Report Share reply to Guest

  • mosergirl26 Guest


    My mom is having the same problem with her co2. Last Monday she was taken by ambulance to hospital for her COPD when she got to the er she ended up goin into Cardiac Arrest and put in an iduced coma to be life flighted when my mom first got to the er her co2 levels was 167. she was transfered and put on lifesupport woke up 2 days later and co2 levels went down shes been in the hospital for a week now and the hospital has no answers for us just that its her COPD shes been on and off life support tube down her throat cuz her co2 levels keep going up. i d know that when she was home she had her oxygen all the way up. i havent had much time with my mom and im not ready to let her go yet shes still young. please need advice.

    0 votes Report Share reply to mosergirl26

  • paulbt2008 Guest

    Hi there, i was looking for info also, im 37 and have alpha1 tripiline defficency, i have lung volume reduction srurgery 4 yrs ago, but now its deterioating, its now im on a oxygen machine, which i hardly use, but i am getting terrible co2 poisoning as i can tell when my headaches start, the docs put me on NIV which eases it up, but iv noticed the head aches are geting much worse... i think im coping but when friends see me they keep checking as i apparantly look bad. i dont like to pester my doctors as im sure more urgent cases are out there, and as im coping i dont know what to do. i know lung transplant is available if im suitable, but after the last bout of surgery on my lungs i dont know, maybe it would b easier to just take a lot of morphine an go the easy way, im not depressed am just frustrated as dont know how to sort it out,

    sorry if am rambling on 


    0 votes Report Share reply to paulbt2008

    • Vee2 paulbt2008

      hI Paul, this post is over a year old so I am not sure if 'Guest' is still around.  

      Reading your post, you say you don't know how to sort it out, that's because you need professional help and guidance.  So don't think you are pestering your doctor, go see him/her, get referral back to the specialist, explain your symptoms, what you are doing, not doing, not able to do, start recording the frequency of your headaches, time of day etc, if you had oxygen or didn't have.

      Oxygen should be as perscribed to you.  If you turn the literage too high this could cause you a headache, if you are oxygen deprived this will not only result in a headache but long term you could be doing yourself more harm.  Do go back to see your doctor and ask for a referral back to the Alpha 1 team of specialists, to get your oxygen levels checked out properly and for other checks.

      In UK or overseas, search for Alpha1 followed by the country you reside, there will be websites, helplines, forums to advise you further but I think it is very important you check in with your doctor asap concerning your symptoms.

      0 votes Report Share reply to Vee2

  • thesis79 Guest

    My dad too is a COPD sufferer and a C02 retainer he is currently in hospital i rushed him in on monday and he's now in ICU hoping to come out but very sad cause i hope and think he realizes the seriousness of this after years of hospital visits. He is also a disabetic sufferer too and only 62 turning 63 in august any suggestions please?

    0 votes Report Share reply to thesis79

  • ana17375 Guest


    I just happened to be browsing for other information and I started reading your comments and stories. So sad to hear of loved ones passing away due to Co 2 retention and complications of COPD.

    I currently work for a medical supply company here in Los Angeles, Ca USA

    I specifically work with respiratory equipment for home use.

    I believe you are in a different country and insurance requirements will vary.

    We offer home ventilators called Trilogy 100. Locally we rent them out through medical insurance coverage private rentals or sell them out right. (most medical insurances cover them)What this ventilator does is extracts the CO2 from the lungs and together with O2 therapy helps to keep the exacerbations under control for most patients. It's very similar to a home BiPAP but with better features specially for COPD patients with chronic respiratory failure or chronic CO2 retainers. It can be use invasive or non invasive. It's also portable with 2 batteries internal and external. 6 hrs total.

    I hope this is helpful in some way. You may also google this equipment.

    It's manufactured by Phillips Resperonics.

    0 votes Report Share reply to ana17375

Back to top

Report as inappropriate

Thanks for your help!

Already approved

You can't report this, it's already been approved by a moderator.

Share this

Forums Terms & Conditions | Help & Frequently Asked Questions