A Bit Of A Scare

My OH was diagnosed with copd just over a year ago. He has had this cough since I met him 5 years ago which can often leave him struggling to catch his breath. Last night he started to cough to the point he went very red in the face and could not breath at all and seemed to be passing out he slumped forward and I shook him and was calling his name and his body and arms started to jerk and he started to come to. I dont know how long this episode lasted all I know is it scared the hell out of me and I think him to as when his body and arms were jerking he had a look on his face as though he was saying help me or maybe fear that he didn't quite know what was happeniing. I tried to persuade him to go back and see his gp or copd nurse but he says only if it happens again. Can anyone please give me advice on what to do should this ever occur again. As I said it scared the hell out of me and the image of that incident and the look on his face just keeps coming back. Thanks

16 Replies

  • In that situation, call an ambulance. Don't take risks with health matters if it gets that serious.

    It's OK for him to say wait until it happens again before consulting his GP or COPD nurse but what are you supposed to do it it does happen again?

  • Thanks for your reply Gordon57. He is a man that wont really be told what to do so I said to him I think maybe you should go back to your gp. He has been off work in the last week with a chest infection so has had antibiotics he also has been prescribed a spriva handihaler to take first thing in the morning and also a blue inhaler 2 puffs four times as required. I asked him if he uses it and says occassionally when I need it. I can see he hasn't been right for maybe 2 to 4 weeks now and had noticed that even a 2 minute walk to the local shop and 2 minutes back again had him pursing his lips to breath or even taking the dog out to the garden for his wee last thing at night had the same effect as does anything of that nature however I took over that duty whilst he had been off work he pointed out to me maybe rightly so that he cant stay indoors all the time.

  • For the medication to be of any use it MUST be taken as directed. Spiriva MUST be taken daily, it's no use taking it one day and then missing a couple, the dose is designed to cover a 24 hour period.

    The blue inhaler is no doubt salbutamol (Ventolin) and is there for if he needs it. Some people have to take it so many times a day, you say his is 'as required. It can take 15-20 minutes for that to work and only if he's able to inhale it properly, it sounds like he would not have been able to at the time.

    I can appreciate that he does not want to be stuck indoors all the time, but he has to listen to his body too. If it's causing him problems then he needs to take things easier and not try to do a trip to the shops if it's making him SOB (short of breath).

    Ideally he needs to be seen by a COPD nurse for an annual assessment, they can test him again and see how he's doing. There are other inhalers they may prescribe, I have 4 plus tablets. See what the GP says when you go.

    But, as we've all said here, if he's that bad then get an ambulance. Even if they don't take him in to hospital they can use a nebuliser to get that much needed medication into his body.

    I remember one time when I was DJ-ing at a nightclub in town. I'd gone down early to set myself up and started having problems breathing. The inhaler didn't help much so I just left everything, with one of the staff watching my stuff, and got a taxi to the hospital. They gave me a nebuliser and I was on the back on the decks within an hour !

  • Thanks for your reply Gordon57. No he definatley would not have been able to use his inhaler. He first saw copd nurse at the end of 2011 for xrays etc and has asked to see him a couple pf times in between that and then he had another annual appointment at the end of last year. at his last x ray he told me they said he has long lungs and copd nurse said his breathing was worse. Is there an inhaler he might be prescribed for what happens. I do know he gets breathless with exertion for example carrying heavy shopping or taking wheely bin out. Our upstairs neighbour is a lazy so and so and is quite happy for him to take theirs out and bring them in, I have tried to point out to him that as long as he continues to do so she will just take it for granted she would be in her mid to late 30's and has a son of about 17 or 18, my OH is in his late 50's I am in my late 40's and am quite happy to take ours in or out but not theirs as I have enough on my plate taking care of OH where I can, (ie I don't have to phsically look after him I just try to make things easier ) running our home and working and have said to OH by hopefully gentle way of trying to persuade him not to overdo things that would she be the one looking after him when he feels tired etc he also cuts all the grass as we have a communal garden. He still works full time but his job can be mentally as well as physically demanding as he works with prisoners, I can see that often he looks pale and tired and it breaks my heart to see him that way. He will often say that he is frustrated as he can't do the things he once could. Sorry turned into more of a pouring out of the heart. He will talk about his copd but only briefly. Thanks again for your reply

  • It does sound like an update with the GP or COPD nurse is needed. The Spiriva should work for 24 hours, which is why it's important to use it daily. There are other inhalers, but it's for the medical pro's to decide. I wouldn't want to try and best guess which would be of benefit. They need to be made aware of what he's trying to do

    It may help to use the blue inhaler 15 minutes before doing something that will take his breath away. If he knows it is going to be a problem, like the bin or grass, then try and avoid it. Exercise is important but over doing it isn't.

    I know the feeling of not being able to do the things I used to. I was a nightclub DJ until a few years ago, I would be out in town quite a lot as I went to see how the other DJ's were doing, but I wouldn't even think of going into town now as I know I wouldn't be able to cope.

  • He takes his spriva first thing in the morning and his blue inhaler when needed although in his line of work not always helpful as things can escalate quickly so he takes it afterwards.Tthink I will now need to subtly suggest if he is cutting the grass or anything else like that i could try saying to him that taking his inhaler beforehand might help. Thanks again.

  • My choice too and perhaps suggesting to him that to wait for a next time is a bit selfish of him and that he should go to see the Dr so that neither of you have to experience this again without some idea of what is going on


  • Thanks everyone for your replies.As I said he is a man who won't or cant be toldhe did appologise but whats to appologise for ..., I thought I was losing him( maybe a silly thing to think). He sad that if he goes to the gp he will be told that he just had a coughing fit ( I think differently) and he will just be sent home.

  • if he will let you go with him, go too and explain that he was completely unresponsive for a time - that is not a coughing fit.

    If he wont, if/when it happens again, dial 999 and do not let him turn being taken to hospital down - if this does happen again, it has to be investigated

    But also hoping it was a one off. Good luck


  • There was something cropped up in a conversation,( something and nothing really) we had over the weekend and I said jokingly to him that he was a stubborn old git so maybe he will start thinking and take that as a hint without me being pushy.

  • I meant to say should this happen again ( but I hope not) he wont get the choice I will be calling an ambulance.

  • I agree with calling the ambulance. I think he should also be asking his GP for a referral to see a respiratory consultant if he has not already done so.

  • Thank you for replying auntymary a respitory consultant would be different health body from a copd nurse?

  • Does he smoke? If so quit now. This used to happen to me. I passed out a few times and cracked my head on the floor. I remember quite a few times when I would shake and go all weird. And not quite know what was happening. It is called cougn syncope. It is caused by coughing so voilently that the brain is deprived of oxygen. Only last a very short while. And if passed out wakes up in seconds. But that means if he drives and starts to have a cough fit to pull in till it has passes. Always carry ventolin with him and have a two puffs soon as it starts to open the airways. My doctor was not concerned. But your partner should see his doctor and explain what has happened so he can be given inhalers if at present he does not have any.

  • Thank you for replying derrylynne. My OH has attempted giving up smoking twice in the last 22 months with the help of champix. The first time he managed for 3 months and the second was for 9 months I think he wants to stop but finds it hard to keep off them. Thankfully he was sitting when this occured a very frightening thing to see and I'm sure for him to experience. I again yesterday attempted to persuade him to see gp but he just said not at all. I really dont want to go calling surgery for advice as I don't want to be going behind his back .

  • the only cure is to stop smoking Mejust. I used to smoke and quit after my coughing got so bad everyone knew when I was at home. At that time I used to seem to go into a mini fit for a few seconds at times when the cough got really deep and bad. I would shake, and be aware though confussed, feeling as though I was going to pass out.I quit for five years and the cough went as did the bad 'turns'.. But foolishly I started again. The coughing returned in weeks and in a short time it was as bad as it was before I quit. If I layed down my coughing was worse. I woke up coughing and sat by the bed. Next I knew my wife was beside me scared to death as she thought I had dropped dead, woken by the thud of me hitting the floor. Blood was coming from my head where it had hit the cabinet on the way to the floor. That was one of many times I passed out. Injuring myself a few times in the process. Needless to say. I quit smoking again. That was quite a few years ago. Since then the cough has gone. I don't pass out anymore. Or get that awful feeling of shaking with confusion. Amazingly I feel now as though I have never smoked and would never smoke again. The only regrets I have was wasting all the money I did on smoking. I am sure your partner knows it makes sense. I knew if I did not quit I would die. and put my loved ones through suffering that could be avoided. And found it very easy to quit. The first time I used patches. The second and last time I quit I went cold turkey. I know it can be hard. But the rewards are so worth it:-)

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