Copd Essay

1644 words - 7 pages

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a progressive lung disease that makes it hard for someone to breath by limiting the airflow of oxygen in and out of the lungs. COPD is a deteriorating disease that worsens as time goes on that affects over 12 million people in the United States (U.S.). It is characterized by inflammation and severe limitation of airflow in and out of the lungs. COPD is an umbrella term used to describe a group of breathing conditions. Most people age 40 and older with a history of smoking (either current or former smokers) are more likely to suffer from COPD, although in some cases one out of six people with COPD have never smoked. (GICOPD 2001)

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The alveoli increase the surface area of the lungs. If the alveoli were removed from the lungs and spread out, they would be able to span out to a regulation size tennis court. COPD affects the Bronchial tube making it collapsible onto itself making it smaller while also destroying the alveoli, which causes the loss of surface area. Different stages of COPD range from mild to moderate to severe. Depending on the severity of destruction the surface area could be reduced to the size of a table tennis or bagmett court.

Cigarette smoking to date is the leading cause of COPD cases. Long term exposure to irritants such as second hand smoke, air pollution, dust, workplace fumes or biomass exposure can also be contributing factors. An uncommon genetic disorder called A1-Antitrypsin deficiency is sometimes associated with COPD. (Anthonisen 1497) Although respiratory infections such as influenza and pneumonia do not cause COPD, it can cause people with COPD to get very sick. Therefore it is very important for people to keep their vaccinations up-to-date as a preventative measure. Someone suffering from COPD can suffer from a variety of symptoms. (Anthonisen 1501)
At first sight, someone may show none to only mild symptoms which may include shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, and an ongoing (chronic) cough with mucus. As the disease progresses, normal breathing would start to require more energy making it more difficult for someone to exercise or do routine activities such as getting dressed or walking stairs. This could lead to fatigue, weight loss and even muscle loss. The continued destruction and loss of alveoli will also contribute to the damaging of the elastic fibers. The elastic fibers allow recoiling to occur during inhalation of oxygen and exhalation of gasses. An alveoli cell is made up of elastic fibers, epithelia cells and surfactant cells. Within the alveoli there are also alveolar macrophages, whose role is to clean and protect the alveoli against infections. Normally the alveoli will secrete anti-protease which defend it from the protease activity. Protease causes destruction while anti-protease will prevent the action from occurring. (Seheult 2014)

Emphysema is caused by an imbalance between anti-protease and protease. The inhalation of toxins by either air pollution or cigarette smoke initiates the slow destruction of the elastic fibers. These oxidative reactive toxins, if inhaled in considerable amounts, will initiate an immune and inflammatory response. The macrophages will start to release many inflammatory cytokines (Interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, IL-1, Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, and Leukotriene B4). These chemicals enhance the immune’s response. IL-1 and TNF-alpha can recruit neutrophils into the area, a process known as chemotaxis. (Hogg 2004, Grumelli 2004) The neutrophils start to secrete protease, mainly elastase, which will begin to destroy the elastic fibers. The macrophages also secrete metalo-protease...

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