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AnnlynnRN, Nurse (RN)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 583
Experience:  RN - 16 years in ICU & Critical Care (Cardiac, Neurology, Trauma, & Medical/Surgical ICU.)
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never had lung problems in her life, but after a few days she went

Customer Question

Last November my mother came down with the flu and it then turned into pneumonia. She has never had lung problems in her life, but after a few days she went to the doctor because she couldn't breath. The doctors have no idea what could be wrong with her. They put her on prednisone and Advair. She has broken many ribs (though not having a persistant cough) and she has lost her voice. She can barely speak above a whisper. Also, whenever she inhales anything, she completely loses her voice. For instance, we were in a store yesterday and they started to use some bleach. She got out of the store instantly, but since she had inhaled just a bit of the bleach, her voice is now completely gone. We need help because the docotors won't tell us anything. She's been to a pulmonologist and he doesn't even know what could be wrong with her. Also, we don't have medical insurance. Please, if anyone could help, we'd be forever indebted to you. Thank you.
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Cheryle replied 11 years ago.


I am most sorry to hear of the troubles you are going through with your loved one. My prayers are with you and your family. I wanted to share some things with you that I know, and hope that it might help you in some way, if any.

Chronic obstructive lung disease (includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis or asthma) is the most common lung disease causing shortness of breath in older adults. Repeated lung infections can cause shortness of breath by damaging the lungs also. I am not sure what tests have been preformed, but all of the above should be taken into consideration and thus ruled out as a cause.

Exposure to any kind of air pollution, fumes,chemicals dust or smoking can eventually damage the lungs and produce these symptoms as well. Especially if the lungs are already comprimised.

I know this must be difficult without medical coverage, but it is important to try to get her in for additional medical care. Certain medical centers will work with you on payments for the medical bills if you explain your financial delimma and agree to the specific repayment terms. This may be something you could look into in your area.

I again wish you the best recovery, and a sure diagnosis to get her back on the road to recovery.

If you nee anything else, fell free to write again so one of the many specialist can assist your concerns.

God Bless~!

Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Cheryle's Post: Cheryl,

You kind of told us what we already know. However, the doctors haven't found it to be any of these things. They're generically calling it "COPD" on paperwork until they can figure out the underlying cause. Also, when she inhales these fumes (ie: bleach), it didn't effect her breathing, it just made her lose her voice completely.

They have mentioned the possibility of emphesyema, but they haven't told her much about it and won't do anything to take care of it. It's sort of like they're saying "Oh, by the do have that, but let's take care of the major problem first and once we've delt with that, we'll take care of this." She's given up on going to doctors because we've spent thousands of dollars and still yet haven't gotten any answers.

Expert:  Karel1 replied 11 years ago.
 Im a respiratory therapist,It sounds to me like your mom may have asthma as wellas copd.;Copd stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.Many of patients suffer from the same kind of symptoms.Not being able to stand sprays,or perfumes.First of all I suggest you get a better pulmonary doctor.Also I would demand your mom gets an mri of the lung to make sure there are not any tumors.Also get a copy of her last pulmonary function test and ask the doctor to explain it to you.You will note on her test would be a predicted percent of a working lung,anything under 80 is copd,if below that it is a severe condition needing oxygen at home.Also she needs an arterial blood gas done,which is the most important blood test to get.The doctor draws her blood from her pulse,which is where her artery is,the results are done immediately.It will tell you is her oxygen saturation falls .If it is below 97 she definitely needs onygen.It is vital you get to a pulmonary doctor who does not just do anything.She also needs inhalers which help when she is outside as well as nebulizer treatment which is an inhaler she would do 3 times a day to bring up any sputum and help her breathing.For now what I suggest is to get a cool air humidifier .They sell them in local drugstore,you need a cold air one.They are no more than twenty dollars at a rite-aid or cvs.Fill it up to the line with water and put a tablespoon of  salt,this will help clear up any sputum until you get a nebulizer machine.Medicare pays for all this providing your md gives you a prescription.Also you will find that if she does her chores in the am it is much better.This is because her oxygen sturation is higher.However once she does thing,it starts to drop.One little tip is ,in the morning before she puts her feet on the floor,she should use her ooxygen for  10 minutes,the key is not to put her feet on the floor.What this does is put her oxygen saturation in the normal level.You will find her able  to do much more than usual.The weather,pollen heat all this unfortunately affect a person with any kind of breathing problem.I hope some of this helps.But the most important thing is to go to a pulmonary doctor.You can bring her test results of ones she did have already.This may save the cost.Unfortunately no one can give you a diagnosis except and good pulmonary doctor.You can also go to the local hospital and go to their clinic,if you cant afford a private pulmonary doctor.Good Luck,karel1
Expert:  AnnlynnRN replied 11 years ago.


Just curious, when, where, and how did your mother suffer so many broken ribs?  Did she have an accident that caused the broken ribs to possibly puncture her lung(s)?  Also, at any point during an acute phase of respiratory distress, was she intubated (breathing tube placed to assist breathing?)  Improper intubation can cause damage to the vocal cords because the endotracheal tube that is used passes by the vocal cords.  Damage to the vocal cords could certainly cause a person to lose their voice.  Has her doctor addressed this?  Best wishes to your mother.


Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to AnnlynnRN's Post: Hello,

No, her broken ribs came afterwards. We're assuming it's due to her use of Advair and also being put on Prednisone (which she is no longer taking). Steroids leave you susceptible to breaking bones. No, she's never had intubation, either. I mentioned the broken ribs because it's just another in the very long list of things that seem to be going wrong. And, of course, broken ribs also cause breathing problems.

Thank you,

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