Always short of breath, yet not qualified for Oxygen?

Posted , 9 users are following.

Hello gang,

I have COPD (30% lung capacity) and have been reading/posting on this site for some time now. Each day is a new challenge. What used to be simple, is now a seriously planned military operation. Shopping, bathing, household chores, etc. get broken down into small movements. Sound familiar?

Even short 3 to 5 step activities have me leaning on a counter or wall as I catch my breath. My Dr. tells me that my O2 level is too high for him to recommend Oxygen therapy. My question is if my O2 level is in the 90s (with activity), then why am I still out of breath?

I'm sure that it's not an airway restriction issue or a mucus issue, as I have a handle on those symptoms. I just can't grasp how O2 would not add to my quality of life. I know that exhaling CO2 is a priority and I do the in 2 and out 3 to 4 breathing method. It does help relieve the breathlessness quicker, but I can't help but feel that O2 would help me when I am active.

I just can't resolve what I'm told, with how I feel. I've yet to hear/read an explanation for COPD's shortness of breath that satisfies me. Treatments do deal with airway restriction and mucus issues, but they do not treat shortness of breath.

I understand that O2 therapy enters a patient into new medical issue areas, but used carefully would it not serve to do more good for more desperate people. I welcome a discussion on this issue and hopefully I'll finally get a better explanation that makes sense for me.

All my best

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  • Posted

    HI, I am no expert except for having COPD, but do you think its possible you might have another illness that impacts on your COPD? Just a thought...

    Hope you do find the answer soon.

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    • Posted

      There are no bad post, just those that are afraid to post.

      I have see my Dr. recently nd will see him again in September. I do have heart palpitations, and we have discussed it.

      What I'm looking for is a more clear explanation of why my O2 Saturation is in the low 90s (considered good), yet I'll just be sucking for oxygen (with activity). It does not compute that I'm getting enough O2.

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  • Posted

    I am now at 22% although when resting my oxygen saturation is between 95 / 97%. My specialist prescribed supplementary oxygen as helping me when breathless and also overnight. I have found it a great help. I have researched any downside in the use of supplementary oxygen and can find no credible reason not to use it. The only reason i can see is to save govenment/health authorities/insurance companies money.

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  • Posted

    I am now at 22% although when resting my oxygen saturation is between 95 / 97%. My specialist prescribed supplementary oxygen as helping me when breathless and also overnight. I have found it a great help. I have researched any downside in the use of supplementary oxygen and can find no credible reason not to use it. The only reason i can see is to save govenment/health authorities/insurance companies money.

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    • Posted

      Double Thanks (LOL)

      Your post tends to justify my reasoning. Still I'd like to hear/read a more clear explanation of COPD and shortness of breath.

      I am still considering the possibility of getting an O2 generator and my Dr. has said that he will wright me the prescription, but will not / can not help to get the Insurance to pay for it. I may be able to get a used and refurbished unit that is more affordable.

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  • Posted

    Hi oxygen isn't given to help you breathe better though that can be a side effect but to protect your other organs. If your oxygen level is high enough putting you on oxygen will be counter productive.

    It sounds much more likely that you have a carbon dioxide problem instead. That means you retain this and it gets trapped in the lower part of your lungs and this causes breathlessness. I would go back to your doctor/consultant and ask for advice on dealing with this. I do know breathing exercises can help so look online for ones related to copd. x

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    • Posted

      Thanks hypercat

      The question is this, if my oxygen saturation level is good (even when I'm active), then why am I short of breath (in need of oxygen) at all. I know and do the breathing exercises to expel that CO2 that is in the bottom of my lungs. The breathing technique of breathing in 2 seconds and then out for 3 to 4 seconds to empty out the CO2.

      I'm still looking for a clearer explanation for just why people with COPD experience shortness of breath. Why is it that one can have a good O2 level and be short of breath at the same time. It does not somehow fit for me.

      All my best

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    • Posted

      Like I said they don't give oxygen to help you breathe but only to protect your other organs. If you trap carbon dioxide and use oxygen this can actually make you more ill. You will not breath better if you use oxygen like this. All this means is that more carbon dioxide will be trapped thus worsening your health.

      You are so breathless coz your copd is severe and verging on very severe. Have you been to PR (pulmunonary Rehabilitation). There you will learn a lot more about your illness and can ask questions. There will be exercises you can do to help. And they do help.

      The answer as well as deal with the carbon monoxide is to exercise even though this is very hard. I know someone with a lung function of 22% who is very fit and works very hard to keep fit. He works full time and can manage more than I can even though I am a lot higher.

      I am on a site called British Lung Foundation and all nationalities are welcome. There are some very knowledgeable people on there so why not join that site as well? x

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    • Posted

      Pulmonary Rehabilitation in America is possible, but it assumes that first the Gov't or Insurance will pay for it. Second one would need a reliable form of transportation to get there and back. Third ...

      As I've already posted, I get a plenty of exercise every day as I live alone and I must attend to my every need by myself. I'm also familiar and do some of the more simple exercises regularly. All fine Ideas, but not always as practical as we would like it to be.

      Next, I understand about exhaling out the CO2 from the lungs, but that does not explain why I and others are gasping for O2 with even just lite activity. Why if there is an O2 saturation level of 90 or better with enen lite activity are many of us sucking for oxygen then?

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    • Posted

      Larry, i'm very sorry to say but attending to one's daily needs only counts as exercise if one runs full flights of stairs, schleps buckets of water at least 1/4 mile, chops wood for the stove, boils water to hand wash/rinse/wring out washing, etc., every single day. i've taken care of myself w/most mod cons -- no dishwasher -- all my life & it does nothing for my lungs/fitness. (3 bedroom house since long before i got COPD)

      If you are on Medicare, you won't qualify for pulmonary rehab until your lungs are much much worse. i'm not sure that PR in the States is as extensive & helpful as in the UK. If you have insurance or Medicaid, ask your pulmonologist because their rules may be different. In large cities some hospitals have Breathers' Clubs. They may be called different things . They're a mix of support club & breathing exercises, including playing the harmonica which happens to be very helpful for many COPDs.

      Why don't you send your question in to Marilyn vos Savant?

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    • Posted

      My honesty is not intended offend anyone or to promote a contest to see who deals with more in their daily lives. For me, my daily chores do count as exercise. Additionally, I also do arm and leg exercises as I feel up to doing them.

      I'm also aware of the health services available to me where I live and what will/will not be covered under my health care plan. What I did not mention before is what I would have to undergo every time were I to attend a reg rehab class.

      To start with there is shaving, which for me requires at least a 20 minute rest following the activity. Next, showering for me is a military operation that requires supporting myself against the wall as I turn the water on/off enough to get wetas I try to minimize the steam being generated. Following the steps of washing my hair and my body, I proceed next (nearly exhausted) to set on a towel on the edge of my bed as I continue to dry off with another one. At this point I'm usually spent and will lay down on the bed and rest for 60 to 90 minutes. Following this there is 30 minutes of dressing and resting as I dawn my attire . The entire 3 to sometimes 4 hour process is an exercise for me.

      Now that I'm ready to depart for the outside activity, I must have already secured a ride to get there. Paying for a taxi/ride service is out of the question with my budget limitations. So getting my family to help me must be exercised at a minimum as not to overextend my families kind help. Attending the activity (shopping, a rehab class, a family gathering, etc,) and returning home does not end the days activity, I still have to ascend the stairs (one flight) before I can collapse on the couch. Sometimes it takes me 1 to 2 additional whole days to fully recover to a normal energy operating level.

      I've opened my life here to try to show that each of us has our own different challenges and it is not a contest to see who suffers the most or to say "if Joe can do this/that then so can you". We are all unique and battle with our own COPD challenges.

      Once again I return to the original discussion on emphysema and it's associated breathing problems. Why is O2 therapy good for some, but not for others? While physical therapy can help, is it worth the price that must be paid to attend them? Why does a person with an O2 saturation rating of 90 or better still get out of breath with even lite activity?

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    • Posted

      Larry, many of us here also go through a military operation to bathe & dress & go anywhere. As to physical therapy, i ALWAYS find that helpful. For my lungs & core, the aquatic therapy lets me do a lot that i cannot do on land. If pulmonary rehab was offered to me, i'd take it in a second. To me, they're like defensive driving classes for cheaper insurance: I learn something new every time even tho i've been driving cross-country for 50 years & locally-only before that an additional 4 years. Other folks hate PT, PR, and defensive driving.

      i wasn't joking about writing in to Marilyn Vos Savant. Many of us here have shared what we know, i.e., that oxygen might be offered to you if your breathlessness is due to/increased by other bodily parts/functions. Heart issues causing breathlessness are common. If you are at high stroke risk as defined by AMA and your insurance, you're much more likely to get oxygen more quickly, in my limited experience. Up to you whether you pursue that. I doubt that someone else us going to pop in here with a radically different answer. You do not believe what we've said, you apparently won't put this question to your docs, so i suggested Marilyn Vos Savant.

      In addition to COPD i also have bronchiectasis. Parts of my lungs are dead and exercise is part of what keeps me going at all. I was on ABs much of the time from Sept-Dec, then was exposed to environmental off-gases for 2.5 hours in a friend's new house. Back on ABs & steroids, sick sick sick from 12.22.18-March '19. By then I was weaker than ever before. Pool exercise using plans made by Aquatic Therapists are what's got me back to where i was in August; without it, i'd just lie around getting weaker.

      This isn't a contest. i am telling you what has helped me and waaay back up the thread i mentioned that heart issues might be causing the breathlessness, or making it extreme. Right up til his death a year ago i watched Himself on oxygen & accepted his refusal to even try PT &/or breathing lessons. He was miserable the last 3-4 years. Oxygen rate had to be increased a point each of the last few years. i drove him to & participated in all med appointments. Docs cared about 2 things only: COPD & a-fib. He spent the last several years more & more dizzy & breathless. Docs had tunnel vision & only considered that as part of COPD, so "increasr the O2" was the only answer.

      Those things didn't kill him. He died age 72 at the house alone so there was an autopsy. He died from atherosclerosis, one of the things his nurse-sister & i thought they'd look at 13 years ago. Yes, we share our lives here, sometimes for solace & sometimes in response to a question. Himself is not the only person i've known who got the oxygen only after docs confirmed heart/stroke risks. We're doing a military operation tomorrow, getting my 2 lung machines plus 3 friends, one of whom has his portable concentrator in the front seat plus his bigger nighttime O2 machine in the trunk. We had a dry run to make sure all equipment + people coukd fit in the car. He can barely walk 2 steps without stopping to rest. We're all hopping in the car to go from Austin to Dallas for an art exhibit. He & i will both use wheelchairs in the museum. Lucky guy, his wife can push him but i'll have to work the wheels on mine.

      I hope and pray that you find a doc who helps with your breathlessness, soon.

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    • Posted

      Because oxygen isn't prescribed to help you to breathe better! it is given to protect your other organs and that's the only reason. If you have carbon dioxide entrapment this will stop enough oxygen getting to your vital organs so if you deal with this you will be able to breathe better. So having oxygen won't help and can even make it worse as even more carbon dioxide will be trapped in your lungs thus causing more breathlessness.

      You need to see your doctor to find out if this is the case and if so what can you do about it.

      Now about PR. I understand exactly what you are saying but the exercises they teach you are specifically designed to increase your fitness. Once this happens you will be able to use less oxygen when you move around as you won't need so much for your muscles and joints. You can find these online as well so why not have a look.

      My lung function is in the mid 70's but I get very out of breath despite my oxygen levels (sats) being in the mid 90's. This is because I am back smoking again after giving up - yes I know that's stupid, I don't eat very healthily nor do I exercise. I suffer with chronic back pain as well which limits any exercise.

      If you do all these then you should see some positive effects. x

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    • Posted

      Hey Hypercat, I thought I recognized your name. I believe we've run across each other in the back pain group. I too suffer from chronic back pain. I am an ex-smoker and will be celebrating 13 years of being smoke free next month. Mark Twain once said that quitting smoking was easy... he did it everyday! I hope you try again and know that each time you try you're that much closer to succeeding.

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    • Posted

      Hi there amkoffee maybe we are following each other 😃 I gave up for 17 months but went back to it I'm afraid. It will be easier the next time I give up coz I now know I can do it.

      What started me again was feeling more isolated coz of my back, and I couldn't break the final link between smoking, pubs, alcohol etc. I am girding my loins for another attempt. I hope you are well. x

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    • Posted

      it will be easier next time, Hypercat. Across the pond here, many large cities banned smoking in most public facilities. By the time of my last quit 12+yrs ago, my city had banned smoking indoors at restaurants & bars -- made it much easier than my previous quit in the '90s. Knowing your triggers is invaluable. Best of luck on it.

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    • Posted

      Oh this was banned in any public places around 10 years ago here so I am used to that. I got very used to going outside for a fag and this is what I do again now. 😦 x

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