My RT Student today reminded me of one of those fact I had all but forgotten. She said, "Did you know that pop and beer can be bad for COPD and asthma patients?"
"Yes I did," I told her, "But I had forgotten."
This is the kind of information we don't use on a regular basis here in the hospital setting, although should store somewhere in the crevices of our minds. We should know why it may not a good idea for that COPD patient to have that Diet Coke or Sprite.
Being the good RT Blogger that I am, I had her dig through her notes for more information regarding this, and she made me a copy of her class notes for that day. I'm not sure who the teacher's source for this information was, so I'm just going to attribute this to general RT knowledge.
According to the information she provided me, here are some basic facts:
- The normal human body breathes to eliminate CO2, producing 200cc per minute that has to be eliminated at the same rate.
- One can of soda contains up to 1000cc of dissolved CO2, most of which is absorbed into the blood stream by the intestines.
- The Lungs are presented with the extra CO2 to eliminate by increased minute volume leading to increased respiratory effort.
However, for a patient who already has a compromised respiratory system, such as symptomatic asthmatics and chronic lung patients, this extra CO2 may cause problems.
Simply put, they may not have the lung capacity to increase their respiratory rate enough to blow of the extra CO2, and this may cause additional dyspnea and further aggravate respiratory failure.
Since it takes longer for them to normalize their CO2 level, that can of pop could actually "aggravate their acid base problems."
In short: "Carbonated beverages will increase the respiratory efforts in normal individuals; but symptomatic asthmatics and COPDers will need to exercise caution when consuming carbonated beverages."
Carbonated beverages can also cause excess gas and bloating, which may result in the diaphragm being pushed up against the lungs, further compromising them and making it even more difficult to breathe.
Beer is something that symptomatic asthmatics and COPDers might also want to consider avoiding because it also has a tendency to cause dehydration.
When your body is dry, your lungs become dry, and this may further exacerbate breathing difficulties.
This is just another example of how lung patients have to think about things that normal people simply take for granted.