COPD What does it REALLY mean?

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Hi all,

My mother was diagnosed with COPD last year (doctors failed to tell her for 8 months until I chased it up) - they gave her an asthma pump and told her to basicaly get on with it.

Today we went to the nurse for a routine check on her respiratory disease and the nurse told her she should've been on more than the asthma pump and gave her a new type of medication - "Seebri Breezhaler 44microgram inhalation powder capsules with device" to take alongside the asthma pump.

When she blows into that thing (don't know its name), she barely reaches 200 (the first two readings).

Thing is, we don't really know what it is to be honest - we're not being told much. She is 60 this month, over weight and stopped smoking 4 years ago. She cannot walk properly (disabled) and just sitting down she struggles to breathe. You can hear her 'trying' to breathe even when she isn't trying to move. She snores terribly every single night (not her fault I know) - but what I want to know is, is it emphasema? My grandad died if this and it was blumming awful!

She's been told to go back in 2 weeks time to see if the new meds are helping her - if not she needs more. Could anyone give me more info on this please?

Thank you smile

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8 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Kayleigh

    I am so glad you are there with your mom and am so sorry she has copd. Here in the States we say there are 2 forms of COPD: chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Am not sure what descriptors are used in the UK, and our meds aren't the same because we Americans insist upon pretending we're the only ones smart enough to invent meds. The disease is the same, though, and it sucks.

    If there's a cure, I don't know about it. Sometimes here they do lung replacements, and somewhere in Asia they're trying for some kind of lung work-around. Who knows?

    Meanwhile it's important that your mom follow the regimen she's been given so docs can figure out which meds work best for her. For sure in the states we have much better lung meds than we had in the '90s so your mom might be much more comfortable a whole lot longer than your granddad was, once she gets on the best meds for her and uses them regularly.

    I'm older than your mom and foolishly kept smoking years after my 1st diagnosis. About 8 years ago i spent 30 hours breathing in smoke from an outdoor fire. Big mistake! Even bigger mistake not to have gone to a hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation. So keep her away from fires if you can.

    Breathing in bed and snoring can be helped somewhat by having her sleep on pillows that raise her upper torso an inch or 2. Both are also helped some by weight loss - very difficult when breathing is so hard. The thing to keep in mind for your mom is that any increased exercise is good. So walking 10 extra steps inside the house counts. Lifting 1 lb. cans in each arm 2 x 5 counts, done every other day. If she can do those to things for a month, then maybe she can add 5 or 10 more extra steps daily and increase her can lifting to 2 sets of 8 lifts. Contrary to popular myth over here, walking & other exercise done inside one's home counts as much as same done in a gym.

    Some foods exacerbate copd, especially ones that produce vast amounts of bad lung gases during digestion. These include potatoes and oranges, tho many of us can eat them occasionally in moderation.

    If your mom has coughing fits, i have a trick taught me by a copd nurse. If you have support groups, it won't hurt to try them out. Be as supportive as you can without hurting yourself. If your mom finds it hard to breathe around perfumes,regular and those in cleaning products, stop using the ones that bother her. I can't breathe at all if I'm near ammonia and i can't stop coughing if exposed to smoke from 2 kinds of trees, tho smoke from other woods doesn't bug me much. We're all a bit different on this stuff.

    Your mom is very fortunate to have you and to have you involved in her healthcare. Best wishes to you both.

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    • Posted

      Unless I missed it somehow?  What's the trick your copd nurse taught you regarding coughing fits?  Know for sure that perfume and some cleaning products cause my breathing to be much worse.  In a store the other day there was a woman wearing a lot of patchouli and I had to leave the store.  Tried to switch as much as possible to green cleaning products and I wear a mask when dusting, etc.  Have a breathe easy day.
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    • Posted

      Hi Terri

      This is a way to help us avoid panic in coughing fits. Of course we're afraid we'll cough so much that we can't breathe, so

      Smell the roses

      and

      Blow your kisses

      In other words, train yourself to inhale through your nose while coughing. Our attempt is to inhale through the mouth since it's already open but that doesn't work. So inhale - nose, exhale - mouth. Memorizing the sentence/the mental imagery prepares us to deal with the coughing. Helps me tremendously, but my ex, who's on oxygen 24/7, refuses to even try.

      Here's another trick to help us aging, crickety folk: when rising from any seated position, look up. Where our eyes go, the body follows. As we get older we tend to start looking at the floor while trying to rise, making our body fight both gravity and our mental focus. Looking up means we only have to fight gravity (and the painful knee hip whatever) as we align our body with where our focus and intent are.

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    • Posted

      Hi Aitarg:

      Thanks so much for the info!  Until about 6 months ago I used to get panic/anxiety attacks on a daily basis, at times really thought that I was going to die.  Have an inhaler now that works for me and haven't had an attack since getting it.  I call the breathing that you describe mindful breathing and try to do it to relax and help my lungs out a little.  Will definitely try the looking up when rising, will do it right now when I get up from my desk.  Thanks again and breathe easy. 

       

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  • Posted

    Hi Kayleigh39, 

    COPD isn't a death sentence, it's an inconvenience and with you to help, your Mum will be fine.

    The key issue is already resolved - she stopped smoking and that is brilliant! Now the doctors recognise it's COPD they have quite number of drugs, education and training that can help improve her quality of life. 

    Over the next few weeks and months they can advise her on pulmonary rehabilitation - this is exercise and education (I am also an ex-smker, disabled, overwieght and over 60, but managed the exercise bit).

    A mix of this, a healthy diet and a positive attitude works wonders - my lungs even work better now that they did 4 years ago!

    Ask the Dr to explain the spirometry (blow in the tube) results, ask about Pulmonary Rehab and register with the British Lung Foundation - they will provide you will lots of great advice and information.

    Take care and good luck.

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    • Posted

      Thank you y_not!

      Mum's done a spirometry test but they didn't tell her results!

      They are useless in our GP surgery - they told he she had a scratch on her boob from a cat she didn't have - we insisted it was cancer and they told us to go away - turns out it was cancer!

      Grrr

      smile

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  • Posted

    You and/or she need to be askng lots more questions!  However I'll try and clarify one thing:  "that thing" is a spirometry test device which is the normal method of diagnosing COPD.   Ask whoever did it what her reamining lung percentage is and you'll have a good idea how advanced her COPD is:  for example, I'm70, smoked for 50 years, diganosed with emphysema/COPD 3 1/2 years ago with 70% remaiining lung function, which has remained stable with medication, exercise and breathing techniques learned at pulmonary rehab.

    If she was given an asthma pump then one can assume she has asthma, but if she smoked for that many years she probably has emphysema as well and hence COPD.   

    Take a look at the entries on the bottom right hand side of this page and do some research there, but also ask more questions - LOTS more questions!

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