My mother & COPD

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Hi, I am new to this forum and I was wondering if any could offer some advice. I am posting about my mum who is 80 years old and has suffered with her illness for about 10 years or more. She was hospitalised about a month ago with a severe lung infection and she was put on a drip. Her blood oxygen levels had dropped to 85. She isn't on home oxygen and my dad says she was gasping for breath at home. The hospital said they wouldn't put her on home oxygen. She was discharged after a week then she started to go downhill again, not eating chest filled with infected fluid and she became unresponsive sleeping all the time. She can't tolerate the portable nebuliser. My dad cared the parmenidic again and she was admitted again and put on oxygen and and she perked up and sated to eat again. They discharged her again without oxygen and she lasted a week and she's back in hospital now on an antibiotic drip because her lungs are so infected and full. As soon as they gave her oxygen she perked up once again. What I would like to know if anyone can help is if this keeps happening but they won't give mum oxygen, (which I understand isn't good for people with this illness) how wI'll they treat hER condition because she is getting ill without oxygen and her condition would become worse on home oxygen and the doctors in hospital are refusing to give her oxygen. My family are in dispair with it all because she is in and out of hospital and we don't seem to be getting any answers. Any advice would be appreciated.

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5 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi there Karen,

    I'm no expert, just a 70 year old COPD patient, but I had a bad turn a couple of months ago and my daughter was quite forceful on my behalf with my surgery.  She requested that I be put in touch with my local "Rocket" team which is a team of nurses who specialise in COPD and visit patients in their own homes.  They are brilliant and it's one to one with no time restraints.  I would suggest that you enquire if there is such a team in your area but most of all, be politely forceful and don't be fobbed off.

    I really do wish you and your Mum all the very best.


  • Posted

    Are you in UK Karen?  If you are do give the British Lung Foundation helpline a call about this situation.  They will be able to advise further about what questions to ask your Mum's hospital consultant.  If she is not under a consultant or community matron at home ask your Mum's GP for a referral.  Check with BLF helpline about this.

    When peoples blood oxygen drops, they will benefit from oxygen if the body's blood oxygen does not return to acceptable levels.  So if your Mum's oxygen drops when she has a chest infection and she is in hospital she will by monitored and oxygen withdrawn when the blood oxygen levels return to normal and are stable when she is resting and when she is walking.  You could ask that question:  "Are my mother's blood oxygen levels normal and stable both resting and when she is walking (if your mum is still able to walk..

    You can purchase an pulse oximeter on line if you wish to monitor your Mum's oxygen levels day to day same time doing the same thing etc.  For a more accurate blood oxygen level test the hospital will do an Arterial Blood Gas you could also ask your Mum's medical team if in fact your mother has had this done.

    - A chest infection or fluid on the lungs doesn't mean the patient will need oxygen but they may be given oxygen when being treated in hospital if the situation requires it.  Obviously if a person blood oxygen is the accepted normal on its own it would be dangerous to administer oxygen.  Some peoples levels are persistenly dangerously low for these people oxygen therapy is prescribed in order to maintain the accepted normal level of blood oxygen.

    I would say and I am not a medical professional, that your Mum's lung condition is unstable and that she is getting lung infection one after the other because its the same infection not properly cleared up.  Lung infections occur not because blood oxygen is low, they occur because of infection in the lungs or inflammation in the lungs.  People with COPD do find breathing more difficult when they have a lung infection, this is usual.

    Fluid on the lungs is another matter but only a medical professional attending your Mum will be able to advise what is going on with your mother and the reason why she sometimes is given oxygen and why it is not prescribed to her when she leaves hospital given that she seems to deteriorate without it.

    Its important whenever your Mum's condition deteriorates, breathing becomes more difficult than usual that she is treated asap.  Either get the doctor out, get her to a doctor or make a telephone appointment to speak to a doctor for advice about your Mum's situation who will then be able to advise you what to do.

    The other way to access medical advice if its the weekend and your are unsure is to contact the 111 service, for more details on that type into your browser " NHS 111 "

    As I mentioned above, do get in touch with the British Lung Foundation helpline for further advice concerning your mother's situation.  If you put British Lung Foundation into google search the link to their website will come up on their page you will find the number to the BLF helpline.

    Again if your mother doesn't see a community matron at home, do ask her GP to access that service, also ask the GP for referral back to a respiratory consultant if she is not already under one.  If your mum is under a respiratory consultant already you should be able access the Consultants personal assistant about your mother's situation to arrangement an appointment to discuss things.

    Hope you find some of this information helpful.

    Best wishes to you  V

    • Posted

      I forgot to mention.  That the normal prescribed medicine for a lung infection is anti biotics and prednisolone (steroid tablets).

      Some patients need to have their sputum tested so the bacterial infection can be identified, sometimes a specific anti biotic is required to treat specific infections.  

      Amoxicillin is the usual antibiotic which some patients do not respond to that is why getting the sputum tested is important and some patients will require a much stronger anti biotic than Amoxicillin.

      Your Mum will need to be able to cough up mucus to get it tested, when she has an infection - speak to your GP about this, it could be the GP / hospital has already tested the sputum for specifics on your mother's recurring infections and perhaps you are just not aware that it has been done.  Ask the questions, hopefully this explanation helps you to know what type of questions you can ask.

      When patients are in hospital they often get intravenus anti biotics which helps to clear the infection faster.

      Other patients self medicate, they have prescribed the antibiotics and prednisolone to keep at home should an infection start so that they can straight away treat the infection.  But carers and patients need to know how to identify their own infections and when to take the medicines.  The GP can explain this, or the respiratory nurse.

      It is very important not to delay treating an infection, the sooner it is treated the quicker it can clear up and less chance of having to keep repeating Anti biotics and pred treatment time after time.

  • Posted

    Hi Karen!  So sorry about your Mom!  You REALLY need to get a second or third consultation with other doctors.  I cannot understand why they won't prescribe oxygen for her use at home.  I had a bad experience with one doctor that said I had asthma and just sent me home.  I got a second opinion and that second doctor sent me for a CT scan and put me on oxygen for home use when I am sleeping during the night.  PLEASE get another opinion.  Hugs and best of luck to you and your family.
    • Posted

      Karen, I agree, you should get a second opinion. Having low oxygen is not good on other organs, especially her heart. Also must consider her age regarding heart, maybe someone younger could withstand low oxygen, but she is older, and rather than make her suffer with gasping for air, please have her on oxygen, until she is free from all infection. Also, please don't keep her on oxygen for the rest of her life after the infection is gone, or if she no longer needs it for low oxygen reasons.

      But, do use it for comfort in the mean time. Also, it does seem like her infection is not clearing up all the way. The little bit of bacteria begins to grow a lot more again, once she is at home and on her own terms.

      Also, I take oxygen very serious, because I had gone with low oxygen for six months, and ended up with Heart Failure in the local ER.


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