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Forum Name: Miscellaneous Chest Diseases

Question: Life expentancy of COPD patient


 amicyco2 - Sun Sep 18, 2005 5:49 am

My husband has had COPD for almost 2yrs now and the coughing fits are getting worse along with SOB all the time. He uses albutrual for help but it only makes him cough more and I'm worried he will die in his sleep from lack of air. What is the life expentancy of a patiient with COPD? A friend of ours recently died from it and it was a horrible death. I don't sleep much at night because I'm afraid he'll die in his sleep or go into a coughing fit and not be able to get enough air and sufficate. The finger machine for O2 says he's getting enough O2 in his blood so the doc won't let him have O2 for at home use, but I feel he needs it to compensate for his constant coughing and SOB. He uses cough drops like they are candy and at night he sometimes falls asleep with them in his mouth which concerns me also. How much longer must he suffer before they do anything to help him? He's 71yr young and still works a full time job but is breathless most the time.

Concerned in NV
 saluja - Sun Sep 18, 2005 6:32 am

Please do not panic.
Cough drops are not of much use and can be harmful.
Tiotropium is a better drug than albuterol for such patients.N-Acetyl Cysteine can also be useful and so can theophylline in small doses.
He should aslo receive influenza and pneumococcal vaccine.
 Dr. J. Jennings - Sun Sep 18, 2005 7:37 am

I would avoid N-Acetyl Cysteine because it can cause bronchospasm and make the coughing worse. There is no medicine unfortunately that effectively decreases the amount of phlegm in chronic COPD. Tiotropium (Spiriva) is an inhaler that is very important and if not prescribed (or Atrovent), then you need a referral to a pulmonologist. To determine the severity of his COPD, he needs a spirometry test. The patient blows into a tube and a computer calculates various things related to his air-flow. This test cannot really predict how long someone will live; we now know that other factors are needs, such as his body weight, how short of breath he is (a special scale is used for this - a dyspnea score) and how far he can walk in 6 minutes. These tests can be done by your pulmonologist specialist. It is called a BODE index. That number can help determine how far along his COPD is.

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