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COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

End stage COPD

10/22/2008

Question:

My mother has been on Hospice for COPD since mid-August. She has had her oxygen level raised from 3 to 8 in the past 3 months. Her breathing treatments have been increased from every 4 to every 3 hours. At every 4 hours, the treatments have become ineffective. She coughs constantly and is unable to get much sleep. She takes prednisone as well as a cough syrup with codeine. She also take a pill to help control her cough. In the past two weeks, nothing really helps. Yesterday, her lips, fingertips and feet were blue. She does, though, continue to eat. She doesn`t eat like she used to , but she does eat some. She can barely walk and requires total care. I am concerned about the blue lips, feet and fingers. I reported it to Hospice and they checked her out and increased her oxygen once again. Since she is still eating,is the end near? I`m terrified and I guess I feel if I know, I will be better prepared.

Answer:

Per your description, it does sound like she is near the end. The hospice staff should be well-attuned to her symptoms.  They can provide medicine to alleviate her cough and shortness of breath and make sure she is not too uncomfortable or suffering.  Knowing this should help to alleviate your anxiety.

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Go to the COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Mahasti   Rittinger, RRT Mahasti Rittinger, RRT
Clinical Program Manager of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University