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Gas Exchange Diseases

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Respiratory Diseases and Gas Exchange in the Older Adult Gas Exchange is defined as the process by which oxygen is transported to cells and carbon dioxide is transported from cells (Giddens, 2013). Simply, it is breathing in oxygen from the air to our blood, and breathing out carbon dioxide from our blood to the air, which all takes place in our lungs. As a person ages, physiological changes to the body happen; changes that can affect proper gas exchange. This paper will identify some of these changes that affect gas exchange in the older adult, some common pulmonary diseases affecting this population, as well the relationship these diseases have to gas exchange and my personal clinical experience.
Gas Exchange in the Older Adult As mentioned, gas exchange is the transfer of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs.
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Changes that can affect the gas exchange process in the older adult include alterations to major systems such as the respiratory, musculoskeletal and immune systems. Lung tissue changes; alveoli (tiny air sacs in the lungs) lose shape over time and becoming baggy, thus allowing air to get trapped in the lungs, and not allowing enough oxygen to the blood and carbon dioxide out, making it harder to breathe (Martin, 2014). The diaphragm weakens over time, which in turn makes it more difficult to get air in and out of the lungs. An older adult’s immune system changes with age as well. An aging adult may not recover from a respiratory infection or exposure to smoke or other irritants as easily as they used to. These alterations in the older adult can lead to many respiratory problems. Some examples of these issues will be discussed
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