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COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

I have end stage - emphysema what do I do?

04/07/2009

Question:

Hi, I`m 38 years old with 5 very young children and and ill husband. when my 5th child with 6m old I was diagnosed with "end stage emphysema". Up until then my doctor had been treating me for severe asthma. I was advised by a specialist that I would not live 4 years. I am much tougher than he gave me credit for, and have no intention of going anywhere. However, I have become so weak, I can only take a few steps without becoming extremely breathless. I can no longer bathe myself or even plait my children`s hair. I am on 2 litre oxygen therapy as I am a carbon dioxide retainer and my last Lung function 2 years ago was 12%. I am on a transplant list and am now receiving Intragam infusions. When I become severely breathless I loose control of my bowel and bladder. The hospital will not admit me, because they feel there is too much risk of infection, probably true, and I don`t want to distress my family. I know that I am very ill, is there anything I can do to improve my activity level. I had a chest x-ray last week and my lungs are litterally from my collarbone almost to my pelvis. I am constantly coughing phlegm which severely debiltates my breathing. Can you help me?

Answer:

You could look into pulmonary rehabilitation to improve your functional capacity and become stronger. Lung volume reduction surgery is also a procedure for certain patients with emphysema. You could speak to your pulmonary specialist do see if he thinks you may be a candidate. He could then make the referral to a facility that performs the surgery.

Related Resources:

Emphysema Treatment

For more information:

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Response by:

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