Archive for January, 2011

LVRS and Lung Transplant 101

January 31st, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

Photo by shawnzrossi

For many COPDers, lung volume reduction surgery or lung transplantation are two topics of conversations they’ve already had with their pulmonologists. Though it might not be an option for some COPDers, others find surgery as the best route to breathing and living better with COPD. In this blog, I’d like to take a moment to talk about the two procedures and how some people prepare for the big day.

Lung Volume Reduction Surgery, LVRS, is a surgery that’s become more common recently but was developed years ago. LVRS does what it stands for: it surgically reduces the size of your lungs in order to help your lungs function better. According to the physicians who wrote the COPD Big Fat Reference Guide ®, LVRS is based on two beliefs. First is that a removal of a nonworking areas of the lungs allow less affected areas to expand into that space leading to more efficient lung function. The second belief is removing areas of the lung are over-inflated and nonworking, making the lungs smaller and more efficient.

Back in the 1990s, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) funded a study called the National Emphysema Treatment Trial, or NETT. NETT set out to find out with LVRS was in fact beneficial to patients and develop some sort of criteria for identifying COPDers who would benefit from the surgery. 1,218 individuals were selected for the trial, and about half (608) were scheduled to have LVRS. Researchers found out that, on average, COPDers with severe emphysema who underwent LVRS were more likely to breathe better and don’t face an increased risk of death for having the surgery. There were some critical risks identified, however.

Lung transplantation is a more involved approach to improving a COPDer’s lung function and is reserved for extremely severe diseases. There are strict criteria a COPDer must follow in order to be eligible, including not having any other diseases and have a stable enough mental state to tolerate the stress surrounding the surgery. There are many decisions to be made, including getting a single or double lung transplant.

Everyone who is qualified for a lung transplant needs to get on a list to wait for a donor (read about the list on If you’re already on the list for transplant, check out this handy checklist from the Cleveland Clinic to help you get ready for the big day.

Though the surgery can be intense, many COPDers have found it to give them their lives back. These two procedures aren’t for everyone but talk to your doctor if you feel this might help you.

A flu or a cold?

January 26th, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

With the bitter cold in the air and being in the midst of flu season, sometimes it may be hard to tell if your cough is the flu or just a cold. And since both can exacerbate COPD, it’s important to be able to distinguish the differences.

According to WebMD, colds “usually begin abruptly with a sore throat followed by symptoms such as clear, watery nasal drainage; sneezing; fatigue; and sometimes a low-grade fever.”

“A mild cough is a common cold symptom. The cough won’t get much worse, but this common cold symptom is likely to last into the second week of your cold. If you suffer with asthma or other lung problem, a cold may make it worse. If you are coughing up dark mucus — or if you are feeling a lot of distress in the lower parts of your lungs — you may have a bacterial infection. It’s a good idea to touch base with your doctor to find out if you need to be seen.


Usually, there is no fever with common cold symptoms. In fact, fever and more severe symptoms may indicate that you have the flu and not a cold.”

With the flu, people might feel very weak and fatigued for up to two or three weeks.

“You’ll have muscle aches and periods of chills and sweats as fever comes and goes. You may also have a stuffy or runny nose, headach, and sore throat,” according to WebMD.

WebMD also lays out the differences between having a cold and the flu.

The American Lung Association also has a flu vaccine finder to make it easier to find flu shots in your area.

This blog also has great tips for COPDers to prevent the flu.

To avoid the flu and colds, doctors recommend eating healthy foods to strengthen your immune system. These include more vegetables and fruits, adding garlic to your meals, drinking fruit juices, yogurt, warm liquid as well as minimizing candy and fast food.

This blog describes herbal or natural remedies for the flu/colds.

Make sure you consult your doctor before making any drastic changes, or if you have any questions about what’s best for you.

Pat Cox; A COPDer in the UK

January 21st, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

This blog post was written by Pat Cox, 63.

Looking back over the last few years, I have probably had this problem for at least four years.

It started with the “smoker’s cough” and progressively worse chest infections, and even though I went to my general practitioner, no-one said to me, “You have COPD and this is what you must do.” In fact, I was told nothing and not even provided with an inhaler!

But, let’s go back some time – I was a teenager in the 60s, when smoking was “cool” and in 1965 I started smoking, because I was standing on my train home from work and it had broken down and someone offered me a cigarette. Everyone else was smoking and the train was crowded, so I accepted – I was probably inhaling enough smoke already!

I have smoked for 46 years and during the early years no one spoke about lung damage at all, so why not smoke? In fact we were allowed to smoke in the maternity ward when my sons were born! This continued into the early 70s because an ashtray was on my bedside cabinet when I had a nephrectomy (kidney removal) at the age of 22!

I had a disastrous marriage and left my husband in 2002 and was also in an extremely stressful job and my smoking increased, and when the coughing started and I resolved to cut down, which I did – back to 20 a day – which in my eyes was good. But the coughing persisted, not being able to smoke at my desk I went outside once an hour for that cigarette and the coughing persisted.

Pat Cox

I would ring the surgery when I developed an infection and get a course of antibiotics; nobody checked up on me, it was as if I was a nuisance! This continued for several years until the week before Easter in 2008 when I sat in my living room and found I couldn’t breathe! I panicked and called an ambulance and was put on a nebulizer by the paramedic who insisted that I went to hospital. I had pneumonia on top of this other problem – but still no-one said the COPD words!

Even in hospital, they only kept me in for two days until the infection had passed, I was never ever told I had COPD and although I had been on oxygen and put on a nebulizer, I was still not given an inhaler to take home!

I was given a letter to take to my general practitioner and instead of handing it in; I insisted on making an appointment and handed to my general practitioner whilst I was in her room. Finally my questions were being answered and I was put on Ventolin, but was given no further support and I just used to ring in when I had a flare up. I continued working for another two years, walking with difficulty up quite a steep hill to catch the bus home.

I still did my own shopping and housework and look after my grandchildren and still do now. I coped and found the COPD Foundation of America on Twitter and through them, found out more about my condition and how to cope with it. I must point out I live by myself and can cope quite well – let’s face it – if I don’t do it, no one else is going to do it for me.

Finally, last year – the year of spirometry, the makers of Ventolin in the UK sponsored a day and I attended and learned more about handling my condition and the trained up one of the practice nurses who now runs a clinic once a month for this and other lung conditions! I need only attend every 6 months and am now on Seretide as well as Ventolin and I’m coping!

I still go out and I may walk a little slower. I live on the side of a valley it can be hard because it’s all uphill on the way out – but at least it’s down hill on the way back! I don’t have a car, but I’m over 60 so I get a free bus pass, which means I can take advantage and go to another town and explore – too busy to do this before! And I can pop along to my local center and browse around. I have compensated in some ways, my bulk shop I order and pay for on line and it is delivered in an hourly slot, but I still pop out to get the odd bottle of milk, to browse a book shop.

I also volunteer for a major military charity – The Royal British Legion and help train other volunteers to run their own Branch of the charity, so I won’t let it get me down. I retired from full time work because the office moved and I did not want to walk the two and a half miles to the office as there were no buses, but am occasionally asked to troubleshoot a problem from home and I have no intention of giving any of this up.

I walk slower but there’s an advantage to that, I can watch the blackbird build his nest and the thrush pulling up a worm and admire the flowers in the gardens I pass, I have time to chat to people and OK, I have COPD but it ain’t gonna get me down!

TSA Guidelines: Traveling with O2, Etc.

January 19th, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Read more…

Spiromics: The Future of Personalized Therapy for COPDers

January 17th, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

When conducting studies on COPD, researchers are dealing with a disease that is a collection of different things, Read more…

Judy Russell: Adventures Post-Transplant

January 14th, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

Judy Russell’s life changed on August 15th, 1999. At the time, she was at a transplant picnic Read more…

2010: The Year of the Lung and COPD Resolution

January 12th, 2011 | Author: Jamie Sullivan

Throughout 2010 the COPD Foundation participated in the Year of the Lung Campaign Read more…

Kicking the Habit… Electronically?

January 10th, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

Electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes) have created quite the stir in the market; Read more…

The “Sandwich” Stage

January 7th, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

This blog post was written by Joanna Murray, who lost her mother to COPD last year. Read more…

COPD Linked to Walking Problems?

January 5th, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

The other day I received a blog in my Google Alerts from  Nursing with the title, Read more…