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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: May 2016

Helping a Loved One

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Dear COPD Coach,
Hi, my husband is 53 yrs old he was diagnosed with emphysema. He has been smoking for 35 years or so. He wheezes and has a hard time breathing. He takes inhalers but still continues to smoke. We have an 8 month old baby and I feel desperate. I read that the average lifespan with the disease is 4 years and I tremble at this possibility. I have read every article on the subject and I am scared to death about the prognosis. I am scared to have a serious conversation with him because I think he is in denial. How do I approach this situation? What stage is he in?

Please advise me as to what to do. Every time I read an article I get contradictory information. Everything is like a bad dream. I want him to live and see the baby grow, I just don’t know what to do to help him. Thank you.

-Desperately awaiting your response

Dear Desperately,
I am very sorry to hear all you are going through. Unfortunately, it is all too common. I would like to be able to tell you that everything is going to be ok but that wouldn't be totally true.

Let's take this one question at a time:

Quit Smoking for COPD

  • As long as your husband continues to smoke, the inhalers will not do him any good. A recent study has found that smoking cancels out the effect of the medications.
  • If your husband won't quit smoking in order to see his baby grow up, then there is little you are going to be able to do to convince him. The only way a person can quit is if he wants to.
  • You can do some things to help him cut back, like not allowing him to smoke around you, the baby, or in the house. Do your best to avoid having the baby come in contact with your husband’s smoky clothing.
  • As far as having a serious conversation with him, you have to just do it! Tell him that you and his child love him and need him but that it is very unlikely that unless he quits smoking that won't be possible.
  • Find a state or local quit smoking program. They know how to work with the heavily addicted smokers and they may be able to help you deal with this, too. They may have a support group to give your husband the encouragement and motivation he needs.
  • As to what stage he is in, there is no way of knowing without a complete evaluation including a pulmonary function test and a chest X-ray.
  • I wouldn't put 4 years as an average. A lot depends on him. If he quits smoking and starts taking care of himself he will probably live well beyond that. I was diagnosed 15 years ago and still am going strong.
  • Check with your nearest university hospital to see if you can get an appointment with a doctor who is familiar with the latest research, treatments and methods. The thing that ultimately helps your husband quit smoking and breathe better might not be available to you locally. Please know that this doesn’t mean your husband can’t keep his local doctor. Physician specialists are only a part of your husband’s health provider team.

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Tags: Quitting Smoking Tipline
Categories: Coaches Corner

Depression and COPD

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“John Smith” was diagnosed with Alpha-1 27 years ago. At the time, he had two young children, ages three and five.

“I didn’t know how to deal with that [being diagnosed.] People told me I had five years to live, so I guess the depression set in right then, but I didn’t realize it at the time,” Smith says. “I thought that somehow I could lie about it [his condition].”

It is estimated that up to 40 percent of COPD patients also suffer from depression. This number is much higher than patients dealing with other chronic diseases. Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes you to feel sad most of the time.

O2 “Well, the deal with this disease was that I was choking on my breath, and not knowing where I was going to end up. I was suffocating, frankly. So that’s what really brought on the depression,” he says.

COPD can cause changes in your body that predispose you to depression. For instance, COPD can alter the quality of your sleep, which can depress your mood. In some cases, patients feel sad because they can no longer participate in the activities that they enjoy because of breathlessness. Many times, it can also be difficult to be in public because some people feel self conscious about their oxygen or outings may be too tiring. This can lead to social isolation, which can also lead to depression.

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Tags: depression mental health awareness month
Categories: Tips for Healthy Living

Improving O2 Access: We Need Your Help

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Update: The survey described below is now closed. Stay connected on COPD360social for developments on the O2 access initiative.

 We need your help with a very important study! With changes to Medicare supplemental oxygen reimbursement, it has become vital that we document the importance and clinical significance of mobility for lung impaired patients. As a consequence of competitive bidding, new reimbursements for supplemental oxygen are now dictating which oxygen devices are being made available to Medicare recipients, often restricting patients to be forced to transport large e-cylinders. The result is that patients using supplemental oxygen are experiencing severe loss of mobility impacting their quality of life and health outcomes.

supplemental O2 and COPD In basic terms: we are going back to a 1970’s model of oxygen delivery that is restricting patients to the confines of their home.

The link below is a survey that aims to document the impact of transporting large cylinders of oxygen will have on our community. To date there is no research that illustrates the obvious fact that carrying or transporting weight causes desaturation in lung impaired users. This of course might seem obvious to us, but has been largely ignored by Medicare who states they require clinical data before they can accept this actually occurs.

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Tags: access Medicare survey
Categories: All About Oxygen

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