My friend with COPD is tired and out of breath all the time, is she in her last days?

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 03, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

A friend of mine is 56 years old. Was diagnosed with COPD approx. 31/2 years ago. She still smokes and drags an oxygen bottle around with her. She's tired and out of breath all the time and can't even hardly go out. Is she in her last days?

Expert Answers

Loutfi S. Aboussouan is a staff physician for the Cleveland Clinic's Respiratory Institute and Neurological Institute. He is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary disease, critical care medicine, and sleep medicine and directs the pulmonary curriculum for the second-year class of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner School of Medicine.

There is probably still much that can be done for your friend. Even though she appears to have advanced COPD, this does not necessarily mean she is in her last days. Although commercials put a lot of emphasis on medications and inhalers, the best methods to improve and prolong life are much simpler: oxygen (which your friend is on) and stopping smoking (which your friend has not been able to do). It is never too late to quit smoking. Also, even if she has tried and failed before, this does not mean she will never be able to quit. Of course, appropriate inhalers should help her breathe much better as well.

One concern I have is that she appears to be limiting how often she goes out because of her shortness of breath. This limitation will contribute to her getting more out of shape and feeling even more short of breath. Once way to stop this downhill slope is pulmonary rehabilitation. If she has not investigated this option, she should probably look into it. Many rehabilitation programs combine exercise with education and even smoking cessation programs.

Community Answers

M320753 answered...

I've had COPD for nearly 10 years now. i didn't know I had it for the first 2 years, I thought i was just getting old. I always did physical work,repairing appliances, and could be found in my yard on weekends making patios and more and more planting time i saw a pulminologist it was time to stop working. I was put on a treatment of Advair-Spiriva and Asmanex. plus oxygen and a nebulizer, from which i saw no improvement. Finally last june it reached the "donut hole" and found my inhalers would cost me well over $600 a month for the rest of the year. I talked with my Doctor and we agreed on a new plan of medication. i now take Ipratropium bromide with albuteral 3 x a day and Budesonide0.5mg/2mL 2x a day and i must say i feel so much better that i work in the yard, around the house and go shopping( which i never did in all of my life). the government supplies my oxygen and nebulizer meds at no cost and my other medications i had changed to generic. last year at this time I was approaching the gap and this year my total drug cost is not even $300 yet mt TROOP is $86. i count this a blessing and though it may not work for all COPD sufferers i did take a big load off my mind . It has lowered my anxiety and depression as I don't have to think which bills i won't pay this month, my credit cards are unused as i paid for my medicine with them so in the end i feel happier and believe it removed a burden off my shoulders that now allows me to enjoy the time i have left. another thing that depressed me was the fact that my teeth were breaking off at the gum line due to gingivitus from all the inhalers i used. i found that out at a clinic for seniors from a wonderful dentist who also told me where to get help from the state in paying for new thing i do, is I research every site on the computer that offers help to disabled senior citizens along with dropping the word pride from my name. i hope my story helps someone out there to ease their burden of suffering from COPD, it's bad enough by itself