Confusion and COPD

Last updated: October 2018

More and more I’m hearing from people who struggle with confusion. The discussion usually begins with someone asking if COPD can cause them confusion. The question then is, can COPD cause confusion or could it be dementia or even Alzheimer’s? It would be so easy to throw my own thinking and response into the question. Most important is that I am not qualified to diagnose.

Decrease in oxygen

I know that confusion can come from a decrease in oxygen levels. It can be caused by an increase in carbon dioxide levels. It could come as a warning that your COPD is getting worse. This is often seen in the later stages of COPD. Medication can affect your oxygen levels and your thinking as well. So often I see posts where people are being told to turn up their oxygen so that they get more air, yet there is wonder why their small pulse oximeter is reading 98% oxygen. I want to say, no don’t adjust oxygen without approval from your doctor. If you are short of breath and your oxygen levels get high, it’s very likely that you are retaining higher levels of carbon dioxide and low levels of oxygen. It sounds crazy I know.

It’s important that your doctor diagnoses the cause of the confusion and the effects on your lungs, then hopefully treatment can follow.

Puzzle books and games

I think it’s wonderful to see so many people doing puzzle books, games, word books, and so many others. The Internet has free games that can be challenging. My favorites are Soduko and word games or other to help keep my mind focused and active. My mom enjoyed crossword puzzles and playing cards. Gin 13 was her favorite card game and she was good. She also played bridge. The kids and I played games when they were younger. It’s fun to talk about those times and to remember them.

These challenge the mind. I like to think of it as filling each one of those brain cells with a correct answer, then a winning game or puzzle, even a memory. I do limit my time on them because I don’t think it’s healthy to be on the computer, phone, or books for a long period.

Walking and exercise

It’s important to walk and get exercise if you can. If you are chair bound or bed bound, sit and stretch your legs and arms, wiggle your fingers and toes. Roll your head from side to side, as long as it’s okay and won’t hurt you. Even these you should discuss at your doctor’s appointment. He or she can advise you and they may have recommendations as well. Walking and exercise can help your body, lungs, heart and all. Maybe your doctor would recommend pulmonary rehab!

Challenge is good

I believe that the mind stays alive when it’s challenged. Being challenged also helps keep the body functional. You see, the heart pumps oxygen from head to toe, through the lungs and organs, as well as through the mind. I always like the saying, if you don’t use it, you lose it. I remind myself of that often.

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