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Side Effects of COPD

If you have COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, you may be experiencing other symptoms. They might not affect all people, some may only people at later stages. Let’s call these “The Side Effects of COPD”.


  1. Something that you may experience when your oxygen levels are low. Some medications can also affect you. If you experience this, be sure to talk with your doctor.
  2. What else can you do? Crossword puzzles, Soduko, word games and more. Things that make you think.
  3. Discuss this with a family member. Chances are they noticed your confusion before you did. Have them double check the stove and other things that could be serious, just in case.


  1. Helps our bodies to thrive, as we breathe. Low oxygen can affect your thinking, your circulation and your organs.
  2. Maybe it’s time to check your oxygen levels. This can be done over a 5-minute period of time with you on the pulseoximeter, which will read your oxygen level.
  3. Your doctor might schedule a night sleep study, to see if your oxygen levels stay the same or if they drop when you are sleeping.
  4. Your doctor can also schedule you for an ABG or arterial blood gas. With this, a needle is inserted into the artery where blood is drawn. Some say that it’s painful. With this, the doctor can tell what your oxygen level and carbon dioxide levels are.
  5. These things can also help to diagnose whether you are needing oxygen.



  1. Coughing can be annoying, painful, and so many things, but for those with COPD, it’s vital.
  2.  Coughing can help to get up and cough out the mucus that is affecting us. This is called a persistent cough. It can make it difficult to breathe as well as cause infection. With infection, your mucus will likely be yellow, green or brown. You may need an antibiotic and maybe a steroid, such as Prednisone.
  3. A non-productive cough is one where there is no mucus or nothing to cough up, however you cough and cough. This might be caused by an irritation, such as cigarette smoke, pollution, etc.
  4. For any type of cough, be sure to drink plenty of water. You might have a cough medicine or throat lozenge that works for you. As with any medication do let your doctor know what you are taking. He/she might be able to give you something that will work better.

Depression and Anxiety:

  1. Depression and anxiety frequently happen to those who suffer from a chronic illness, which is what COPD is. Because it lasts for over three months.
  2. Discuss with your doctor. He or she may prescribe you an antidepressant.
  3. It’s important to talk with a therapist, a support group or even an online support group to help you work through the things that you are experiencing.

Difficulty Sleeping


  1. Laying flat can affect your breathing.
  2. Laying on numerous pillows can cause “kinks” in your airway. Try a wedge pillow to elevate your upper body and keep it aligned for easier breathing.
  3. Some people will lay or sleep on a recliner to keep their heads elevated.
  4. This can also cause you to snore, which can affect your sleeping.


  1. Being overweight can affect your COPD by putting extra stress on your lungs, because your lungs are working harder to carry the extra weight of your body. This can cause more shortness of breath.
  2. I frequently get asked if I can walk the length of a football field and how many times can I do it. Being overweight can affect the type and amount of exercise that you can do. This can also affect your breathing. Do talk with your doctor about an exercise program. This can be in pulmonary rehab, physical therapy or even Your doctor will be best to advise you.


  1. For those, especially in the later stages of COPD, burn more calories as they struggle to breathe. Because of this, it’s difficult to maintain a healthy weight.
  2. Because COPD causes a person to burn calories, which causes a person to lose weight, it also affects and reduces muscles. Because of this, it’s very important to do exercises, that will help to strengthen your muscles. Discuss this with your doctor about his/her recommendations for you. If pulmonary rehab is offered at your hospital, hopefully you will be able to take this. If it’s not available, maybe he/she can recommend exercises or even set you up with physical therapy, where they can advise you on exercises that you can do. There are also exercises on that are very good. Again, talk with your doctor.
  3. Eat more smaller meals a day, healthier foods that have more calories.

Reflux (GERD):

  1. Reflux often affects those with COPD.
  2. As those with COPD cough up sputum, it also brings up the stomach acid into the esophagus. Reflux can also enter your lungs.
  3. Do talk with your doctor, he/she will likely prescribe and antacid for you or recommend an over the counter medication for you.

Sleep Apnea:

  1. Sleep Apnea is often observed by snoring and can be caused when you stop breathing for short periods of time. It makes sense then, that COPD and Sleep Apnea are called overlap diseases.
  2. If you have a sleep study, that might be the first time that Sleep Apnea is diagnosed. Your doctor will write an order for you to get a C-Pap, which is a machine that provides compressed air pressure to prevent your breathing from stopping. Your doctor will determine the setting that he/she wants you to have.
  3. Your C-Pap supplier will set up your C-Pap for you and will also supply a mask for you to wear. If the mask isn’t working for you, there are other masks. Find one that will work. They too, will hopefully supply filters, and other supplies. If your nose dries out, there is a humidifier for your C-Pap. Discuss this with your supplier. If you are on oxygen, your supplier should also give you the adapters for the tubing to go into your C-Pap machine.

You might know of other things that you could consider a side effect of COPD. If so, please share!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.