Respiratory Therapist/Possible COPD


Hello Larry W. Wical, My mother who is 48 and a smoker was recently hospitalized. She spent 3 days in the hospital for acute hypoxic respiratory failure, sepsis, and leukocytosis she was 88% room air when they brought her in. The Dr said he was treating for pneumonia. She spent a few days on IV's and oxygen. They did tests and scanned her lungs and heart for clots and blockage. They said everything was clear and good. They finally released her and prescribed her the following meds Azithromycin 250mg, Prednisone 10mg, Claritin 10mg, and Ventolin HFA 90 MCG. They also said she was prediabetic and scheduled her for a follow up appointment to test for possible COPD! Well she went to her follow up with her general practitioner and he wanted to wait to do the testing until she was off of the meds. They said her lungs and blood work looked ok and that she was at 99% room air. If her lungs look ok and she's on 99% room air why are they testing for possible COPD? Is this just a standard precautionary practice after being hospitalized for pneumonia? Is there a high likely hood that she has COPD or is it just a precaution to cover all the bases. I've been stressing like crazy because I've heard nothing but bad things about COPD. Thank you in advance for your time and assitance.

Sincerely, Cori

Hi Cori,

I am SO sorry about my delay in responding, still trying to get my AOL email to stop sending certain emails to the Spam box. It's an ongoing battle. So in regards to your question re: COPD, it is not abnormal at all to have normal oxygen levels while having's kind of an oddity, bt patients with histories of smoking can have carbon dioxide in their system that can somehow falsely-positive convert itself to show better oxygenation. As her GP suggested, it is a good idea to be off all antibiotics, steroids, etc. before doing the testing so that they can get her true "baseline" presentation.  

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Larry W. Wical, BA-RRT


I CAN answer: ALL questions and queries related to the following topics... - Oxygen - Asthma - COPD - Bronchitis - Emphysema - Pneumonia (Viral/Bacterial) - Tuberculosis (TB) - SARS - Influenza (Flu) - Vaccines - Pulmonary Embolism - Pleural Effusion - Atelectasis - Inhalation injuries (burns, chemicals, etc.) - PFTs - Cardiovascular health - Sleep Apnea - BiPap/CPAP - Ventilators ("Respirators") - Aspiration injuries - Thoracic injuries - Lung contusions - Tracheal injuries - Artificial Tracheostomy - Secretions - Prolotherapy/Regenerative Injection Therapy (RIT): A patient's experience/perspective - General health and fitness I CANNOT answer: Questions that vary too far from my primary scope of pulmonary and cardiovascular care and fitness. I promise to be open and honest about my knowledge of submitted topics, and will always openly provide my personal as well as professional feedback as it relates.


Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT, RCP) since 2005. I have worked primarily in the acute care, critical care, burn care and home care settings.

NBRC - National Board of Respiratory Care AARC - American Association of Respiratory Care

-All About Kids Magazine -The Clermont Sun -Cincy Sports & Fitness Magazine -Many online Fitness and Health blogs and "webazines"

- B.A. in Communication (1997) - A.A.S. in Respiratory Science (2005) - RRT license (state of OH, KY and IN) - Basic Life Saving (BLS) - Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) - Advanced Burn Life Support (ABLS)

Past/Present Clients
Currently work in the city's largest academic/research hospital.

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