Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a complex illness such as chronic airways obstruction and persistent breathlessness in a wide variety of patients. This can be caused by air pollution, work hazards, and lung infections but characteristically includes those current or ex-smokers. For example Cigarette smoking alters the structure and function of the lungs causing them to increase in size and lose their elasticity (www.metrohealth.org accessed 2nd November 2009). In general, COPD is directly associated with other debilitating lung diseases, including Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis, where the airways in the lungs are partly obstructed, narrower making it difficult to get air in and out.
In particular, Emphysema is characterized by enlarged (over-inflation) alveoli or air sacs in the lungs, distal to the terminal bronchioles which have been damaged gradually over time (The Linde Group, 2007). This over-inflation results from a breakdown of the walls of the alveoli therefore losses its elasticity , tins and small amounts of air remain in the lungs, thereby creating a poor level(decrease) of lung function and not enough oxygen into the body which leads to breathing problems (The Linde Group, 2007). ...
Table 1.1 www.ageworks.com/.../images/lung.gif: Lung Disease (25th October 2009)
In Chronic bronchitis the primary consideration is the walls of the airways become thick inflamed (swollen) bronchi, wherby mucus (phlegm/sputum) which makes coughing occurs on a regular basis (The Linde Group, 2007). The word 'chronic' means that is long-term with very slow changes (oxford mini-dictionary for nurse's 2008 pp125). From a physiological perspective, the following indicators are observed: Blood flow and air flow to the walls of the alveoli where gas exchange takes place are uneven or mismatched. In some alveoli there is adequate blood flow but little air, while in others there is a good supply of fresh air but not enough blood flow. When this occurs, fresh air cannot reach areas where there is good blood flow and oxygen cannot enter the bloodstream in normal quantities (About.com, 2005 accessed 24th October 2009).
Since COPD directly impacts the alveoli and bronchi of the lungs, there are many challenges associated with the development of effective breathing processes, and that in order to achieve the desired outcomes with respect to breathing, ongoing treatment must be established that is designed to improve lung function to some degree over a gradual period of time. Poor alveoli and bronchial function is very difficult to overcome, and therefore, patients find themselves facing difficult and labored breathing, as well as excessive mucus buildup and coughing.
Sign and Symptoms of COPD
According to Wouters et al (2002), a Cough that has lasted a long time is usually the first symptom of COPD. The cough is often worse first thing in the morning, after exercising or after smoking is