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COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

Final stages of COPD

09/18/2007

Question:

My Mom has been with COPD/Ephazemia for over 4 years now, yes she still smokes and being she has for numerous years we allow her to do so. Just lately her voice has changed (deep) and with her breathing it is difficult at times in which they have to put drops of morphine on her tongue to allow her to breathe. She is weak, can`t get around much, has been on oxygen for over 4 years, her shortterm memory is gone, she is on steriods and other meds, she is fragile, tiny, her skin is like paper. She states the mind wants to do things but the body will not allow. Can you answer me her status. We the family know she is dying but I don`t want her to suffer as she was always full of life and now is not good.

Answer:

The most important thing for your mom would be to quit smoking, as this would only make her emphysema and breathing worse! Plus, it is dangerous to be on oxygen and continue to be a smoker. She should also be seen by a pulmonary specialist if she is not already, to assure that she is on optimum medical management. Based on your description she may be in the most advanced stage of her disease; however, without knowing her age and pulmonary function, it is difficult to determine that. Lastly, if she is at the end stage of her disease, discussions regarding "end of life" decisions with her and the rest of the family might not be a bad idea.

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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

Phillip T Diaz, MD Phillip T Diaz, MD
Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University