Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is any disease that causes obstruction in the pathway of air as it is going to the lungs for gas exchange. It causes poor air flow to the lungs, which makes it difficult for a person to breath. There are two main components to COPD and they are called Emphysema and Bronchitis. The symptoms of these diseases are coughing, shortness of breath, and sputum production, which is the mucus that comes up from the lower air passageways. COPD is something that should be prevented early on because there is no cure available and it dramatically affects the lifestyle of a patient (Silverman, Reilly, & Shapiro, 2011). The main cause of COPD is smoking cigarettes, but others factors like air pollution can also contribute. It is said that some of the significant sources of air pollution are poorly ventilated cooking and forest fires. Irritants can cause long time damage to the lungs resulting in narrower bronchioles and breakdown of alveoli, which is known as Emphysema.
Emphysema and other diseases like Asthma and Bronchitis can be diagnosed with pulmonary function tests (Decramer, 2012). Emphysema is one of the two main components of COPD. Normally in the lungs, there are small air sacs called Alveoli. In a patient with emphysema, these small sacs start to break down into larger sacs because their walls collapse. There are lots of alveoli to increase surface area for efficiency of gas exchange, but when a person loses lots of alveoli, the lung then becomes less efficient in exchanging gas. Furthermore, emphysema makes breathing out air harder because it is much harder to squeeze air out of a big sac of air versus small sacs of air (Rabe & Hurd, 2007). Bronchitis is another one in the list of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. It is described as the inflammation of bronchi.
This inflammation makes the pathway narrower, therefore making it even tougher for the air to go in the lungs. The size of the lungs doesn’t change, but the diameter of the bronchi changes. Again, the patient would say that they are short of breath. Bronchitis and Emphysema not only affect the lungs, but they also affect other parts of the body (Silverman, Reilly, & Shapiro 2011). One great example of how COPD affect other parts of the body is simply the different tissues of the body. They need oxygen to do their jobs properly and we need to get their byproduct (carbon dioxide) out of the body efficiently. The deficiency of oxygen can lead to hypoxia, which means low levels of oxygen in the body. The body can also be in a state of hypercapnia, which is an elevated level of carbon dioxide in the body due to poor gas exchange in the lungs.
Due to low levels of oxygen and high levels of carbon dioxide, the lungs itself and other organs such as the heart have to work harder in order to compensate for this problem. The heart rates increase in order to send more blood to different tissues and breathing rate increases in order inhale as much fresh air as possible. The sad news is that there is currently no cure for chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. The only thing that can currently be done for patients is help them treat the systems and delay the progress of the disease itself. Termination of smoking and supplemental oxygen has shown to reduce the motility rates of these diseases.
The death rate decreases by 18% if patient were to quit smoking. Smoking is one of the leading reasons for the COPD. Other things that can help the patient with symptoms are to stay away from air pollution such as forest fires and poorly ventilated cooking. COPD can definitely be prevented earlier in life by not smoking or staying away from air pollution because there is no cure for these diseases. People should keep in mind that medical professionals don’t have much to offer regarding COPD and once a person gets a disease, it certainly affects the lifestyle of that person.
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