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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Emphysema

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An indi vidual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

[posted 07/11/2000]
Question: My father suffers from emphysema. His doctor put him on a high protein, low sugar diet. How does this type of diet help with his breathing?

Answer: Part of the problem with chronic lung disease is expelling the carbon dioxide that your body produces in order to make energy. If he is retaining co2, then less production will help his breathing effort somewhat since he will have less to expel. Fat has more energy bonds per co2 produced than simple carbohydrates and a high fat diet will reduce co2 levels to some extent.

[posted 05/2/2000]
Question: My dad is in the final stages of emphasema. He has had several panic attacks which has caused him to have difficulty breathing. It was recommended that he take Ativan to help calm him. He is taking .5 mg. 2-3 time daily. Although his breathing has eased, he seems quite sedated with this. Is this a wise approach?

Answer: Often used, either this class of drugs or morphine sulfate(or some narcotic). The options are feeling like one is drowning or a little sedation. Usually, the dosage can be tailored so the dyspnea is minimal without major sedation. Sometimes an antidepressant(like Prozac) will help to decrease the dosage of Ativan, sometimes not.

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