Reviewed by Kristen E. Holm, PhD, MPH

In addition to physical symptoms, COPD can cause a variety of problems with both your thinking and your emotions. When your breathing suddenly becomes more difficult, your brain may get too little oxygen or too much carbon dioxide (the "waste" gas that is expelled by the lungs). If these conditions last for an extended period of time, your brain can get "sick" or actually be damaged, decreasing your ability to problem solve and remember. Other illnesses that frequently occur along with COPD, such as infection, can add to the confusion and memory loss and make it difficult to pay attention.


Medication Problems

The medications that you take for your COPD can also cause problems. Oral steroids - most commonly prednisone - can cause many learning, memory and emotional problems. They can make you nervous, depressed, or more sensitive and irritable than usual. Some common antibiotics used in COPD can do the same things. When these side effects happen, it can be tempting to want to stop the medication. A better plan is to let your doctor know what is happening so that he or she can either change the medication or find another way to relieve the problem. If you do have side effects, write them down and take them with you to your next doctor's appointment.


Problems to Discuss with You Doctor

Write down any problems - with your feelings, your thinking, or your body - that you feel may be due to your illness or medications. Bring the list and discuss them with your doctor at your next visit.


Step 6: The "Mark" of Oxygen

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