Emphysema

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Emphysema

Postby plath » Wed Feb 13, 2008 10:15 pm

Hi - I don't know whether this is the sort of question I can ask in here but I'll try it anyway. My mother has just been diagnosed with mild to moderate emphysema at the age of 82. She is scared silly. I don't live near to her and she wants us to sell up and move back home cos she's scared she's going to die in agony. My question is, does anyone know how fast this thing progresses? Me and my hubby and my brother think something else will get her at her age before the disease can progress to end stage. Does anyone know the likelihood of it progressing quickly to end stage? She stopped smoking 2 years ago and was never a really heavy smoker. Thanks in advance for any answers.
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Re: Emphysema

Postby Torti » Thu Feb 14, 2008 11:13 pm

plath, as a former respiratory therapist, I've had to help many emphysema patients deal with their problems.

Is your mother exhibiting any symptoms of chronic bronchitis--productive cough, shortness of breath? Does she have any asthmatic symtoms also?

What medications is she on for this? There are so many out there now and treatment modalities like inhalers and nebulizer treatments that can really give lots of relief and make the work of breathing easier.

It may come a time when she needs low level supplemental oxygen. This is not too difficult with concentraters that require no cylinders, just plug the unit in and turn it on. Longer lengths of tubing to a nasal cannula can allow the patient, your mother, to move around, so she is not bed or chair bound. Cylinders or liquid systems (expensive) can be used when outside the home, shopping, etc.

Mild exercise is to be encouraged. Walking is very good, as is light gardening.

The emphysema itself is not agonizing nor even painful, but it can progress to being a debilitating condition requiring help at home. However, the possibility of pneumonias of any type are always present and require immediate care. Pleurisy that can accompany pneumonia is very painful. Ordinary colds and other upper respiratory infections are to be avoided.

A well-balanced diet with an emphasis on adequate caloric intake is to be recommended. About 1/3 of the day's calories should come from the three major food groups--protein (for body repair), carbohydrates (for energy and the complex ones like pasta and potatoes are best), and lastly fats. The reason for this balance is the digestive system breaks each one down differently and (I cannot remember which one it is) one of these groups produces an excess of CO2, which is to be avoided by the patient because the emphysema itself encourages a buildup of CO2 and a pH imbalance in the body making it harder for the body to work and use what lung absorption surfaces it has available.

I won't get any more technical than this. I hope your mother has a good doctor to help her manage this condition. It is manageable for a long time, taking proper care of oneself.
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Re: Emphysema

Postby plath » Fri Feb 15, 2008 5:10 pm

Thankyou so very much for this, Torti. My mother is on inhalers. She does have a productive cough, and she will be going to her own G.P. with this. She is waiting for the Consultant to write to her doctor though, as she has only just been diagnosed at the hospital. There does not seem to be much follow up I'm afraid - she was given the diagnosis, and left to cope and deal with the emotional aspects of it herself. She was given no breathing exercises, or any help in how to deal with the disease. She immediately went into a state of terrible fear and deep distress and depression. Now, however, she is doing all that she can to make sure her house is as dust free as possible - by buying air filter machines. She is doing all the right things as far as we can know - things we have found out by reading on the internet, books etc.

As we have two members of our family who died with emphysema, and it was not a good death, she is terrified. This fear is ruling her life at the moment. We are all trying to deal with the situation in such a way as to relieve her fear as much as possible.

Again, thankyou for your very helpful reply.
Plath
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Re: Emphysema

Postby Torti » Sun Feb 17, 2008 2:19 am

It sounds like your mother is on the road to good management. Unfortunately, management/treatments are what can be offered at this time for emphysema patients, but good management goes a long way towards slowing or even stopping the progression.

Your mother should at all costs avoid second-hand smoke, too. This can be difficult, depending on the circumstances.

Another little tip: Five or six small meals are far better than three larger ones. This allows more room to breathe without the fuller stomach taking up space. Much more comfortable. Adequate water intake is important, too.

It is very, very, very hard to see loved ones struggling simply to get oxygen into their lungs. I'm so sorry to hear that your mother witnessed two relatives with this. Yes, she is fearful that she will wind up in the same condition, and this fear is normal. Coming to grips with her condition may take some time, but remind her that it is treatable and manageable and new drugs and treatments come out all the time. Every little bit helps.

It's good that she quit smoking, and now, after 2 years, some natural healing repair of the smoking damage should occur. This will help some. However, there is a genetic form of emphysema and this can occur whether a person has ever smoked or not. Treatment/management is the same for either.

Good luck and best wishes to both you and your mother. She will be more comfortable after getting a management routine established.
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Re: Emphysema

Postby plath » Sun Feb 17, 2008 11:49 am

Thankyou very much Torti. You have helped so much. I really appreciate this. Thankyou again.
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Re: Emphysema

Postby Tripz » Tue Apr 22, 2008 12:43 am

This disease killed by step-dad...need I say more! :cry: :(
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Re: Emphysema

Postby Chox » Tue Apr 22, 2008 12:49 am

now tripz that hardly helps plath feel better, does it?
:| :|
plath as i understand it, a person can have it for decades and do mainly ok for much of that time. if i understand it properly.
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Re: Emphysema

Postby Tripz » Tue Apr 22, 2008 1:05 am

I'm sorry plath no ill intent, but the illness in fact my step-dad lived longer than the average the doctors said [5years]...I feel for you Plath....The nightmare of him dying didn't end there tho...
My mother was caring for him right up to his death..Through this selfless act she neglected her own health, only to be told weeks after he died that she had breast cancer...TOO late :x after having a mastectomy..the doctor said it went well. :x ..She lived a further few years a pitiful skeleton of a person...the cancer had spread ravishing her pancreas..liver...and 4yrs ago she too died... :cry: ...
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Re: Emphysema

Postby Chox » Tue Apr 22, 2008 2:15 am

oh tripz.
i am so sorry.

(((((((((((tripz)))))))))))))))
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Re: Emphysema

Postby chimaera » Tue Apr 22, 2008 7:35 am

One of our neighbours, a 74 year old gent, has COPD. He manages really well , although he has to use oxygen. He has had this disease for 10 years, now, but still manages to go on a touring holiday every year with his mobile equipment.

His was caused by smoking.
Things are never so bad that they can't get worse.
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