Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease ( Copd )

1535 Words7 Pages
Alex Rose Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Do you know what the third leading cause of death is among Americans? That’s right, it is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, which is an overall heading used to cover several conditions, all of which are characterized by blockage of air from the lungs, resulting in increasing breathlessness. The two main diseases that fall into this category are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. According to the American Lung Association, COPD affects the lives of more than 12 million adults in the United States. There is a large difference in the way an unaffected, healthy lung and a COPD stricken lung operates. Some people’s life styles and living environments put them at a higher risk for…show more content…
At the end of the bronchioles, there are clusters of microscopic, stretchy air sacs termed alveoli that inflate in a balloon-like fashion. Oxygen from the air is then incorporated into the bloodstream via the air sac walls while the carbon dioxide waste is transferred from the blood to the alveoli where they readily delate causing exhalation. Unfortunately, not all lungs function as so. The lungs of an individual with COPD experience symptoms of both chronic bronchitis and emphysema. With bronchitis, airways are constantly irritated causing those structures become inflamed and thick. Also, excess mucous production causes blockage. Emphysema is a condition where the walls of the alveoli are damaged. Airways lose their elasticity so the amount of gas exchange is limited. The body’s tissues are deprived of oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide becomes more difficult. Overall, the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide is less than normal and shortness of breath becomes increasingly more prevalent. Symptoms worsen over time. Symptoms include those of both chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Signs of COPD include shortness of breath, a chronic, productive cough, wheezing, chest tightness, cyanosis of lips and nail beds, frequent respiratory infections, fatigue, and unintended weight loss. A chronic cough is the most obvious symptom of COPD as the body is trying to rid itself of the extra mucous that is produced from the
Open Document