Extreme fatigue, raspy voice

Posted , 8 users are following.

Hi all,

I was diagnosed with mild COPD a while back and I felt fine until this last month. Every day I am so tired, I could sleep all day. My pulse ox is 96-97. Breathing is a bit labored, but it is not too bad. I have read posts about fatigue, I guess it is inevitable. I am now very concerned about day to day life. It takes me about 90 min in the AM before I feel I can go out or do anything strenuous. I also have a raspy voice all the time.

Could anyone offer any comments or advice? If there is any, I guess I can't face it. I live alone so am in a bad position.

Thank you and so grateful for this group.

What helps? Anything? I dragged myself to the gym the other day, and do about 30 min on treadmill but did not feel better. I also feel like I am getting de conditioned.

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  • Posted

    Hello maryterese

    Fatigue is most certainly a part of COPD. And it can be very frustrating, concerning and depressing to not be able to shake it.

    Truth is for all of us, the less we do, the less we feel like doing and the less we feel like doing the more tired we become. The single greatest action you can take to decrease fatigue is exercise. And just when you have such poor energy!

    As we lose muscle our body requires more and more oxygen and this causes even more tiredness. Gain muscle and your oxygen requirements lessen, your heart and lungs have to work less hard, and thus save more energy.

    Walking on the treadmill is a great idea. To really see more improvement, I would suggest you try going daily ~ start out with fifteen or twenty minutes a day and increase until you get to the ability to walk at a moderate rate (feeling a bit short of breath but still able to converse) for twenty to thirty minutes. In several weeks you will notice an improvement in your tolerance as well as sleeping better and less shortness of breath.

    Also it is important to begin doing some things to help your muscles grow..such as eating more lean protein, eating regularly throughout the day and especially to do some exercise that will increase muscles..like stretch band exercises and light weight lifting or weight resistance....

    Once your muscles start gaining strength you will find you have a lot more energy, much easier movement, (which also helps to reduce the chance of falls) and less fatigue and shorness of breath.

    Sounds like a lot I know..but the single biggest effort we COPDers can do towards staying healthier for longer is exercise...it slows the progression down and gives our bodies what is needed to be strong.

    As fat as  having a hoarse voice this is not really a direct result of the COPD, but moreso a symptom caused by medication...are you on a steroid inhaler? or what is known as an 'anticholinergic' inhaler as these can contribute. Also, there are times when people have done a lot of coughing that will cause some swelling near the vocal cords and lead to raspy voice.

    Hope you are feeling more optimistic and will feel encouraged!



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    • Posted

      Wow, thank you for all the helpful info. Especially re exercise. It is so Hard to do but I agree with your thoughts. I will work up to daily and try some weights. I can't imagine but will be thrilled to get through it and feel better!

      I am on an anticholerngenic and I am wondering if trying another one may help my voice. It is very raspy and am constantly getting comments. Also uncomfortable...hope this can change.

      Thanks again!!

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    • Posted

      I am feeling happy to know the information is helpful maryterese!

      Start slow and move up as you can.

      Remember also, if it suits  you, and helps your exertional abilities on the treadmill, some find taking a puff or two of their rescue inhaler five or ten minutes before beginning will help your breathing.

      I have tried this and found it helpful...as time goes on, you will have more tolerance to more activity.

      I am feeling excited for you!! 

      Take your time and look to the long term.

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  • Posted

    Have you had a referral to your local Physio. I was like your good self, extremly tired which makes you feel lazy.

    However once I attended the physio sessions my abilities were measured and an exercise programme based on my personal abilities was devised. Maybe a word with your GP will trigger a referral for yourself.

    I believe as the COPD progressess the harder  it is to accept that there are some things we cant do,to overcome this try to focus on what you can do and not what you cant do,there is no harm in taken a power nap when needed. God Bless 

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  • Posted

    Unfortunately tiredness is inevitable with COPD and I'm amazed you could do 30 mins on a treadmill.   Apart from the breathing techniques, the most valuable thing I learned at pulmonary rehab is that there's absolutely no point in "soldiering on" with COPD because if we push ourselves too far physically it takes longer to recover, so what's the point?

    You don't say what medication you're on, not only for COPD but possibly other conditions:  for example, statins are widely prescribed even for people who don't have a cholesterol issue and can cause severe exhaustion and lethargy as well as other negative effects.

    I too live alone and with some initial difficulty have learned to slow down and accept I can't do everything I used to do or at the same pace, but I do exercise every day and walk the dog most days, the speed and length of the walk being conditional on how I'm feeling.  I push myself a little bit, but not to the point of exhaustion and some days I just accept I can't do much.   I find I can do more the next day if I take it easy and don't let myself get into a state about it:  mindfulness meditation helps enormously with this change of attitude on my part.  

    I've also learned not to commit 100% to anything in the future, and say to friends and family that I'll be there if I'm well enough that day.  

    All this isn't easy, but I've found it essential  (in the words of the 12 step groups) to accept what I can't change, in my case the decades of smoking which gave me COPD and the fact that I'll never be really well again, and to change what I can.

    I'm quite slow in the mornings too and most of the time remember to allow extra time to get ready if I have to be somewhere else at a specific time.   

    It might be a good idea to check in with your gp or practice nurse and see if you need a change in medication.   The raspy voice could be from medication - eg Spiriva or whatever else you're on.

    I'm not clear on what you feel you can't face?   

    Take care and good luck

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    • Posted

      Jude, thank you. I believe I stated before that we do not get pulmonary rehab unless very severe. No physio. I can only hope the respiratory therapist will be available., here in the US things are very different when it comes to COPD.

      I am exercising when I can but working up. I was able to do 30 moderate minutes last week on treadmill, I don't think I can do that next time. Good for you about exercise.

      Yes I take Breo and it may be causing the voice problem. Would love to resolve.

      I agree about pushing yourself too hard but I know I am doing that right now, will have to slow down. I said I could not face being this fatigued a the time, not much energy to do a lot if things I would like. So it will take time. I think my illness is worsening rapidly. Thanks again!

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    • Posted

      I know it's hard, I've been through this "having to slow down" stage, but your condition will in fact worsen rapidly if you don't slow down.   

      I do sometimes get sick and tired of monitoring myself but I've decided it's the only way to go:   eg, say I have to go into the polluted city for a medical appointment, I accept I'll be tired for at least one day and possibly two so I plan my activities accordingly.  Same thing when I want to socialise at local live music (which I love) outdoors around smokers:   my lungs will be affected later, so each time I have to decide if it's worth  it.

      A number of people have posted here in the past that there are breathing exercises on youtube:  I've never had to access them becasue rehab is available here either free or for very low fees, but that might be worth a try for you?    I can verify they're worth the effort:  if I miss doing them for more than one day, which only happens occasionaly, my breathing deteriorates very noticeably. 

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    • Posted

      I am fatigued 24 hrs a day so committing to things is difficult. I know what you mean.

      Today I had a friend in from out of town. I made breakfast and se socialized a while. Right to bed after she left although I can't sleep.

      Rehab here is not easy to get and is expensive. I am going to check it out. Thanks Jude!

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    • Posted

      I stopped going to bed during the day when I feel tired because I found I'd sleep too long and then not be able to sleep at night.  Fortunately I have a very comfortable armchair so I get comfortable in that and set the alarm for an hour or an hour and a half so I don't sleep too long.   I find it more refreshing than sleeping in bed because breathing is easier when sitting up.

      The other thing which revives my energy is 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation:  it's as good as about an hour's sleep!

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