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My dad gave up smoking 20 years ago, he has just been diagnosed with COPD...

(4 Posts)
BehindLockNumberNine Sun 07-Aug-11 17:39:28

... and it feels unfair. (even though I know it isn't, really....)

He smoked heavily from the age of 18 until 43 ish. He has not smoked for over 20 years now.
I went to visit him and mum last week. Dad was wheezing constantly. He appeared not to want to talk about it but when I gently probed admitted he was suffering from COPD.
I did not notice much coughing but he is definately constantly wheezing even when at rest (ddad is very active, keen walker, cyclist and sailor)
One morning at breakfast he appeared to inhale his orange juice and ended up choking, coughing and throwing up. Is this co-incidence or COPD related?

Also, given that he is constantly wheezing, how advanced do you think his COPD is (yes yes I know, piece of string question)

Unfortunatly I cannot ask my mum or dad about this as they are very much brush it under the carpet / head in the sand / stiff upper lip type people. We are not a touchy feely open with each other type of family, sadly.

alistron1 Mon 08-Aug-11 10:00:23

With COPD swallowing can become impaired 'cos the body prioritises breathing over swallowing. If he's wheezing he might want to get his medications assessed. My MIL has been 'end stage' for four years with COPD (not saying that your dad is by the way!!) and in order to relive/control her breathing she had a neubliser at home, a supply of steroids in to take, a stock of antibiotice plus various inhalers.

COPD is characterised (IME) by periods of being 'well' and then exacerbations, the exacerbations were usually triggered by a viral infection so over the past few years it's been standard practice for us not to visit if any of us had a bug. After each exacerbation there would be a decrease in lung function.

My MIL has always managed to get out and about, only a few weeks ago she was doing 100 on the motorway for a little jaunt down to cornwall.

With the right support and medications your dad should be able to have a reasonable quality of life. Depression can be common with COPD sufferers so anti-depressants might be appropriate for him.

BehindLockNumberNine Mon 08-Aug-11 15:01:04

Thanks for the reply. I had feared as much about the choking as mum did not seem surprised by it..
He did tell me he has an inhaler which he takes often but it has not yet made any difference. The GP has told him to come back next month for another lung function test.

Crap. Dad was always so young, fit and active and healthy looking (they live in Holland on the edge of a large lake and go out on the boat almost daily). They are also keen travellers. He does not 'do' being ill (who does though) and accepting this will not go away is going to be hard for him...

alistron1 Mon 08-Aug-11 16:47:33

I think MIL when she was diagnosed kind of buried her head under the sand for a bit because she had never done 'ill'. COPD is progressive, and it encompasses a number of symptoms but if your dad starts to manage it now then he could go on for another 20+ years with a decent quality of life.

If he's wheezing at the moment he could maybe need a short term steroid to dampen things down.

It's ever so hard when you have to initiate hard conversations and maybe 'interfere' My DP found it tough. But it does get easier, and with MIL sometimes what she needed was one of us to say 'you know what? I think you need to pop to the Dr's'

It might be worth gently suggesting that he sees his Dr before the lung function test just to ensure he's getting the right meds.

The one thing with COPD is that it does sort of come and go, so once he's over this trough he'll feel much perkier and maybe more accepting of the situation. One thing we noticed is that when MILs breathing was 'bad' she'd get an accumulation of CO2 in her system which would make her irritable, slightly irrational and not as good at making decisions/judgments. Then after treatment (eg antibiotics/steriods) she'd be back to her old self.

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