COPD Foundation Blog

Find inspirational stories, tips from the COPD Coach, events, and current news on the COPD community blog. Have a question regarding COPD that you would like to share with our community? Contact our COPD Coach. Coaches Corner is aimed at providing information for individuals with COPD to take to your doctor, and is not in any way intended to be medical advice. If you would like to submit a question to the Coaches Corner email us at We would love to hear your questions and comments.

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Archive: April 2016

What is an Adverse Drug Reaction?

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Dear COPD Coach,
My doctor prescribed me a new medication and I am now experiencing some sort of allergic reaction. Is this normal? What should I do?

-Better Safe than Sorry

Dear Better Safe,
Thanks for reaching out. It sounds like you may be experiencing an Adverse Drug Reaction (ADR) to your new medication. There are a number of ways an individual can experience an ADR, and most are not related to allergy. Reactions include:

Adverse Increased effect of the drug: A drug’s influence can vary from person-to-person, and an appropriate dose for one person may be too strong or weak for another.

Side -effects: All medications have side -effects, but some individuals are more prone to them than others. Known side -effects are listed in patient information, with the most common at the top of the list.

Drug interactions: Some drugs combinations can result in serious health consequences and should never be taken together. Most drugs interactions, however, are less severe and only result in adverse symptoms in a sub-set of patients.

Allergy: While uncommon, individuals may experience and allergic reaction to their meds. If you are concerned, ask for a small test dose of a new drug before you are given the normal amount. You may want to reach out to an allergy specialist who has experience in this area.

Consult with your doctor if you believe your medications are at the root of your symptoms. A medical professional is the only person who can appropriately determine whether your newly prescribed medication is causing you injury.

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Tags: adverse drug reactions
Categories: Coaches Corner

Practicing What We Preach! Living with Co-Morbidities...

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This blog post was written by COPD State Captain, “Uncle” Jim Nelson. Uncle Jim and his wife, Aunt Mary, are active COPD advocates. They describe their experience with COPD and a recent diagnosis of prostate cancer below.

Those who know us, or who have read our writings or heard our speeches over the past few years, know that we express a boundless enthusiasm for the activities and attitudes that help us get through the day. We speak from many years of experience with lung disease, with the struggle to function, with the use of oxygen, and finally with the adventure of a double lung transplant. We have been, as they say, "there..."

Well, here we are again. My PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) level had risen sharply- a cause for concern! A biopsy led to a diagnosis of prostate cancer.

Knowledge is power - We have always preached that it is better to learn as much as possible about any malady that might be affecting you. Uncertainty leads to stress, a feeling of loss of control, and fear. Knowledge about your disease might not be pleasant, but it is truly valuable to learn about what to expect and the possibilities of treatment.

Being your own best advocate - It is no secret that a patient will receive better care, will be more well-informed, and generally will stay healthier if they have an advocate, someone who is willing to and capable of understanding the needs of the patient. The advocate can be a caregiver, a family member, or a professional. “John

Can you become your own best advocate? You, the patient, are the center of this whole fiasco! It is in your best interest to have someone on your side, someone who knows what you are going through, someone who really, really cares. Why not you? That does not mean that you have to get up on your high horse and start demanding stuff! Quite the contrary. You can get a lot more cooperation from your caregivers and medical professionals with a smile and a bit of patience.

Do your research - We know more than we ever wanted to know about prostate cancer, its symptoms, its manifestations, and its treatment. We have learned that there are a variety of approaches, including surgeries, hormone therapy, and radiation methods. We have chosen surgery.

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Tags: Co-morbidities Living with COPD
Categories: Personal Stories


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Dear COPD Coach,
I have just been diagnosed with COPD. I have suffered with GERD for 25 years and had Nissen wrap surgery (surgery for GERD when other treatments fail) 20 years ago. Surgery helped for awhile, but I still struggled with GERD while experiencing new COPD coughing symptoms with difficulty in breathing. I instinctively lied down on the floor with my head elevated. It seemed to slow the coughing and the sense of mucus dripping in my chest. Is there any validity to this or I’m just hoping?

Thank you,

Dear COPD,
COPD and GERD (Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disorder) often occur together. Research shows that people with COPD are at far greater risk of developing GERD, and almost half of those with severe COPD also have GERD.

John GERD is a digestive disorder in which the valve that keeps stomach contents inside the stomach allows stomach acids to get up into the esophagus. The disease can easily complicate your COPD symptoms. These acids are very irritating to the linings of your lungs. It is thought that GERD develops in people with COPD because they have trapped air in their chest cavities, which may then increase pressure on the abdomen, which leads to gastric reflux. It is also thought that some of the medications used to treat COPD may impair the lower esophageal sphincter which is the valve that keeps acid and food in the stomach.

According to Dr. David Mannino, one sign that the acid reflux of GERD could be affecting your lungs is if you wake up in the middle of the night gagging, especially with a sour taste in your mouth. Heartburn, coughing more frequently, coughing up mucus, and having even more trouble catching your breath all indicate that GERD is likely making your COPD symptoms worse.

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Tags: Co-morbidities GERD
Categories: Coaches Corner

What are COPD Comorbidities?

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This blog post was written by Dr. Byron Thomashow.

Comorbidities, or other chronic medical conditions, can include cardiac disease, osteoperosis and muscle weakness – all common for individuals with COPD.

Many people have comorbid conditions but we don’t know why people develop these problems. We don’t understand why these things are common in people with COPD.

The importance of these comorbid conditions in COPD is becoming increasingly clear.

“Dr. Byron Thomashow If one looks at the cause of death in COPD, most of these deaths appear to be related to cardiovascular disease, malignancy, and pneumonias. The majority of COPD patients are dying with their COPD not directly from their COPD.

Likewise, comorbidities are a common cause, or a contributing cause, to many COPD related hospitalizations. Comorbid conditions often have a dramatic impact upon the lives of those suffering from this disease.

The greater the number of comorbidities, the greater the shortness of breath. This should not be a surprise. If two patients have similar severity of COPD, but one is in addition suffering from significant arthritis, that patient is going to be more limited. Arthritic complaints, sinus disease, cardiovascular conditions, depression were among the more common conditions reported.

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Tags: COPD comorbidities
Categories: Education, Resources and Studies

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