Hi everyone,

My name is Angela. My mother was diagnosed with COPD a few months ago. We're still working out various issues and I assume that this will continue. We've purchased a shower chair but she seems to be able to shower without the needs to sit down until she comes out of the shower. She uses an oxygen concentrator and since she has difficulty walking, we've obtained a wheelchair to use when we go out.

I've got a few questions and I would be grateful for any assistance:

1. My mother is getting out of breath in the shower and from what I've read, this is to be expected as showering involves quite a lot of energy, there is steam etc. She's started keeping the door open and the exhaust on but I want to encourage her to use her oxygen whilst she is in the shower. Can you tell me if there is any specific way to do this. I'm assuming if I drape the wire over the shower there's less chance of her tripping, but is there anything else she needs to do (eg: is there a problem with the cords getting wet or if water gets into the tubing?)

2. If she gets a cold, does she still take her oxygen via her nose?

3. I want to do all that I can to help her and give her her best chance at a good/reasonable quality of life. her dr hasn't arranged re hab. Whilst she's done the lung function test, he hasn't told her specifics of her illness but has just told her 'not to worry about labels of illnesses.' Would I be right in saying we need to do/ know more? if so, what would you suggest? Should there be regular tests that she undergoes and if so, what ones?

Thanks for your help.

31 Replies

  • Hi Angela, check the blf website and see if there is local breathe easy group close by. Join up together and you will get loads of advice from them plus stay on this site where someone who may have the same problem will beable to advise you.


  • We have one, but when I messaged on Facebook he didn't reply so going to have to ring them.

  • Hi Angela - welcome to our friendly forum. I am not an oxygen user so cannot advise on the oxygen issues but someone will be along to help with this.

    Getting out of breath feels scary when you are not used to it but it is not dangerous in itself - have a look on YouTube for videos about pursed breathing, this helps to regain control. The key is adapting to this new way of life, for me it has been planning ahead and taking low activity breaks between tasks that need more energy.

    Tony's advice to check the blf website is good. If your mother wants more information about her illness her gp should give this. Some people don't want to know much so it is not always easy to judge. Our surgery would book a double appointment for this kind of issue. If you could go with her and get a list of questions together beforehand that wold help too. Your mother is fortunate in having such a caring daughter.

  • Hi Angela.

    I also get breathless in the shower which was quite scary' I decided to not shower when very breathless, bot instead had a quick short bath once steam had gone down a little, also have a warm but not hot shower and bathroom window open.

    I know a few people have posted on the site re oxygen tubing so you will gets lots of tips.

    Good luck.

  • Can you fit a chair or stool in the shower as it would take a lot less energy from your Mum if she could sit down.?

  • Hi everyone, Thanks for the advice. Yes, we can fit a stool in the shower but I don't feel it's enough for her as he oxygen levels drop to the low 80's after a shower. Does anyone know how to practically use oxygen via a oxygen concentrator in the shower?

  • i use my oxygen in my shower . i had a few weeks ago had panic attacks now i put my chair in there and turn music on it help me lot.

  • I have a oxygen concentrator with tubing all over the house. I wash my hair etc. In the shower it dosent do anything to the oxygen.

  • Hi my husband always used his oxygen concentrator in the shower and also sat on a stool. We purchased a very large good quality dressing gown so he could put it on after shower and sit in a chair whilst he recovered it was a great idea from the respiratory nurse, he also had no problems with the nasal cannula when he had colds oh yeh and we just closed the shower door as much as possible with the tube on the floor but yeh obviiously mind you dont trip on it, it was me who tripped on the tubing as it was long enough to get him all round the house he never did but I think the user is more aware of it, the cats used to chase it around too they thought it was a great game good luck with everything. X

  • I use oxygen and if the canulla is in your nostrils water cannot get in the tubing and if you take it off while showering the holes are too small for water ingress. Ask to be referred to a consultant who will help a lot. I see one every 6 months also I have lung function tests regularly. I talk to the respiratory nurse at the surgery if I have any problems. Yo don't say how severe your mothers copd is, I am severe stage 4 and have had it for about twenty years but still have a good quality of life. I am 72 and still drive, I get out and about on my mobility scooter and still go on holiday as you can arrange to have the same oxygen equipment delivered to your holiday destinations you have at home. I don't know if it is because I am on oxygen but I have not had a cold the whole time I have been on it, which is four and a half years, but I am very careful and don't mix with people who have colds etc even the grandchildren because every exacerbation or infection you have causes a slight deterioration. Just make sure your mother eats well and moves about as much as she is able, sitting doesn't do any good. There are some good exercise dvds on the BLF website. Hope this helps. Keep smiling

    Carole x

  • Hello Angela,

    I have a stool in my shower, and two click-on handles ( take them off when finished) and I use my tube from my concentrator. It has made showering a pleasure for me again. I still am tired afterwards, but not the exhausted way I was.

    You just have to not let too much water over your face....I have the water running down my back, and just lean into it when I am washing my hair. I keep a dryish facecloth to absorb any water I get near my nose. It does work.

    BTW, I got the handles reasonably cheaply from Amazon. I do no have the strength to click them to the wall, so my husband does that, then he puts the stool in and away I go. I never shower when he is out in case I slip.

  • Good Advice from Caroleoctober. I replied and only saw it when I was finished!

  • As well as looking on the BLF website I would also contact the BLF Helpline. The nurses are wonderful and have given me far better information that Doctors and consultants. Don't believe you can ever have too much information it is just sorting through it that takes the time. I joined my Breathe Easy Group last Tuesday and thoroughly enjoyed it so definitely advice you and your Mum to do the same.

    All the best to you.

    Love and hugs



  • hi ,ive been diagnosed with copd 2 years ago now , but im only using one inhaler , im not as bad as some on here so dont feel the need for oxygen ,ive only had one test and thats the one i had wen first diagnosed , i feel that im slowly getting worse ,so i will eventually be going to see my doc again about it , im also a RA sufferer,so have to be careful i dont catch any colds ,,,hoping this message finds all people on here well as can be,

  • Hi Angela,

    Welcome to the site, have you been with your mother when she has seen her doctor - it maybe he does not want to upset her if she was on her own, it can be scary to hear of the problems that may occur or tests that she may have to have. I have an arrangement with my fathers GP practice (with my dads permission) that enables me to contact them about his general care and other medical concerns. He does not have lung problems (I do), but has 'age related' concerns and does get panicky if he has any kind of muscle/arthritis pain. Perhaps you could make some arrangement with her GP to be updated with how her COPD is progressing.

    I know some of my fellow posters might feel that I have taken away my dads right to have medical anatomy and I never thought I would have to look after my dad to such an extent but he is happy and not panicking about getting to the Drs every time he gets an achy twinge.

    One hint I can pass on is, I am on ambutory oxygen so do bath without oxygen but have difficulty getting dry as its such hard work - until I saw a post about using towelling robes to get dry instead of towels. Its much better than trying to towel off to get dry and I only need a quick dab here and there to complete the job.

    Best wishes to you and your mum.


  • I am too afraid to take my oxygen off. I leave it on at all times. Even to shower. I have a portable one I take outside. But they are so heavy to carry..

  • I am much worse. I lie down in the tub as if in bed. I only remove the O2 while washing my face. No danger of falling. Have help to get out. Take two puffs of albertal fifteen minutes before getting in. ( short term rescue meds)

  • I have stage 4 copd and I use my shower chair all the time. It only drips a little and I would be lost without it. I am 76.

  • Hi, I am sorry to hear about your mums illness ,I'm also sorry I can't offer any advise as I'm not an oxygen user myself , and I do agree with comments made before mine ,

    Welcome to,our group I'm sure there's someone on hearbthatbcan offer you good advise ,,,can I suggest that you push your gp to refer your mum to,Pulmary rehab they were the best thing to come into,my life since I was diagnosed ,

    Best wishes ,

  • Hi, Angela. I'm not on oxygen so I'm sorry but I can't help with that bit. (However, I was on oxygen in hospital after lung surgery 4 years ago and used it in the shower. Although a nurse would wheel it in and out for me, I often felt it was more trouble than it was worth!)

    I do find showers difficult though and have found some ways to minimise problems. I have a stool in the shower (I rarely need it but it's reassuring) and a perch stool outside. I also have 2 grab handles permanently screwed to the shower walls. All those were supplied (on loan) by my local Social Care Dept. Although I have a decent income (occupational and state pension), this was all done free of charge. I think this might vary between local authorities though (I live in Edinburgh) - or maybe I got them free as I'm terminally ill.

    I also have a thick towelling robe for bad days. I just put it on, then sit on the perch stool while I brush my teeth etc and I'm dry in no time. Someone else mentioned this and it's really useful but if you get your mother one, make sure it has towelling on the inside as well as the outside (strangely, some don't) and is thick.

    I don't know if any of this is useful but I hope you and your mother will be able to improve things a bit and I wish you both all the best.

  • Hi everyone,

    Thank you for your advice. I'll implement your suggestions and see how my mum goes.

    My mum's in her mid 50's. The doctor hasnt told her what stage shes at. I attend her appointments but to be honest, I dont thunk the doctor is properly advising us. Im may suggest to mum that she try someone new.

    Thanks again. Ill let you know how we go.

  • good for you , but why is she on oxygen i was told that i had copd about seven years ago and i have never been on oxygen and hope i never am ( i still run up and down stairs and i am 70 years young ) copd is not the problem that people say it is .

  • Well lucky U!!!!!!!! COPD affects us ALL DIFFERENTLY!!! This is a SUPPORT group!!!!!! SOME OF US CANT EVEN CLIMB 5 stairs without Gasping. BEST WISHES TO YOUR MUM ANGELA. XXX

  • Please Shocked1, there is no need to shout in capital letters. We are a family and we all have lung disease in one form or other. We contribute to this site our personal experiences and hope that we are able to help others.



  • Hallo Frank65,

    I'm glad to hear that you are still fit and able to have an active life, to what I understand COPD can affect people differently. I am 67 and up to a year and half ago I had been diagnosed with Asthma and Bronchiectasis but I was able to walk reasonable distances and did lead a more active life. Last year I was diagnosed with COPD as well and now life for me has become much harder. The amount of medication in tablet and nebulised form takes at least 2/3 hours a day to administer added to the fact that I have to use oxygen when not resting. So for many of us COPD is a problem.

    I wish you every good wish that you remain fit and healthy and keep doing whatever you are doing to keep fit because it is working so well.



  • well Frank, All I can say is that you are a very lucky man to be able to run up and down the stairs, I don't think there are many people with copd who could do this, I for one would give my right arm to run up the stairs let alone down as well, are you sure your Doctor diagnosed you correctly ? perhaps he or she made a mistake.

  • Frank that is not a very sensible thing to say,you obviously have very mild Copd!I have very severe emphysema and can not run any where,be thankful you are not in my position and Don,t belittle those worse off than you! D.

  • I would say, first of all listen to your doctor and don't get hung up on "being sick". Taking oxygen with you into the shower is a bit far fetched and from your doc's attitude it seems that you may be getting over wrought and should consider stepping back and looking for another perspective.

    But what do I know...? I've just been nursing myself back from a NDE three years ago with next to no help from anyone except a few tips I pick up in this group from time to time and doing internet searches for more info. I always check and cross check any info I find just to verify.

    Exercise is above all the key to rehab and breathing hard is simply our "cross to bear"..., or "our bear to cross".

  • i was not belitling any one . i was simply asking a question of why she was on oxygen and not stating that i did not have any problems with copd just the opposite but i am not on oxygen my father was when he had it he was also bed ridden not because he had to but he chose that way . i am not belittling any one .

  • Ithink this is why. Do not comment much, fear of being misunderstood or my post being taken in the wrong context.

  • Hey everyone dont get so hung up about oxygen not everyone with copd needs oxygen I have severe copd and am checked regularly its not a pleasant thing to live with but as much as the smallest amount of exercise causes me to gasp my oxygen level is 95% and as yet thank god I dont require oxygen. With regards needing oxygen in the shower if my husband who had ipf had not used it then the strain on his heart would have seen him off. So we are all different and some of us are at the same stage of diagnosis but even then some of us are lucky enough to still do things even if its only the smallest of things. X

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