COPD Essay

251 views 4 pages ~ 1034 words Print

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a curable and avoidable illness that is categorised by irreversible restrictions of airflows. The limitation of the airflow is progressive and linked to unusual inflammation response of the lungs to harmful gases as well as particles. COPD causes many global deaths (Barnes, 2007, p.122). This paper aims to describe body changes as a result of COPD, sign and symptoms, causal factors as well as those who are at risk of getting the disorder.

Causes of COPD

COPD is caused by systematic inflammation. The exposure to smoke, gasses, as well as dust particles, causes the airways passages such as bronchi, alveolus, and bronchioles in the respiratory system to swell as shown in Figure1. Barnes (2007) argues that the inflammation of the response of the lungs is caused by an increase in the number of macrophages, neutrophils, and T-lymphocytes (p.112). The inflation also occurs due to increase in the concentration of cytokines, increased oxidative stress such as smoke from tobacco, dust particles and other foreign gases. The narrowing of the air pathways in the lungs reduces the airflow, increasing shortness of breath as well as increase air trapping.

Figure 1: Systematic inflammation of airway passage (Bupa, 2018).

Abnormalities in Nutrition and Weight Loss

COPD causes abnormalities in nutrition and weight loss. Schols (2000) argues that COPD can alter the intake of calories, intermediate metabolism, basal metabolic rates well as the composition of the body (p.112). Agustí (2007) reveals that 50% of a patient suffering from severe COPD experiences loss in body weight while 10% of those suffering from the disorder also experiences weight loss (p. 522). The loss in body composition can occur in absence of considerable loss in body weight (Schols, 2000, p. 113). The disorder also results in increased the basal metabolic rate due to several mechanisms such as increased breathing common among COPD patients (Schols, 2000, p.113). The rise in basal metabolic may eventually lead to weight loss.

Skeletal Muscle Dysfunction

The disorder also results in skeletal muscle dysfunctional. Agustí (2007) argues that COPD causes both functional and specific atomic changes in the muscles, which reduced patients' ability to exercise as well as reduce the quality of life (p. 523). COPD can cause changes atrophy and fiber-type composition of muscles. The disorder can also lead to loss of muscles endurance, enzymatic activities as well as strength (Agustí, 2007, p.523). Agustí (2007) argues that patient with COPD have increased circulation of cytokines which result in protein inactivation and degradation (p.523). The degradation and inactivation of protein lead to muscles dysfunction. COPD also increases the risk of cardiovascular disorders. Duncan (2016) reasons that COPD result in abnormal endothelial functions in both renal and pulmonary circulation. The increased risk is associated with increased smoking common among COPD patients (p.363). Agustí (2007) also argues that persistent systemic inflammation in the airway passages could be associated with the increased cardiovascular diseases (p.524).

Signs and Symptoms of COPD

Productive cough experienced in the morning with white or colourless sputum is a major sign and symptom of COPD. Such cough is normally persistent does not go away. Patients also experience shortness of breath or dyspnoea. The shortness of breath occurs in early stages the symptom may take place infrequently with exertion and may eventually advance to breathlessness when the patient is handling minor task such as walking to the bathroom or standing up (Barnett, 2006, p.15). The shortness of breath may also occur in the form of wheezing. Patients may also experience unintended weight loss (Barnett, 2006, p.15). Such weight loss occurs in later stages due to low intake of calories and loss of mass of skeletal muscles.

Risk Factors of COPD

The high number of COPD (73%) in developed nations is mainly caused by increased tobacco smoking. Exposure to vapours from burning fuels during heating and cooking in poorly ventilated rooms plays a significant role in causing COPD in developing states. The genetic disorder such as deficiency of alpha-1 anti-trypsin (AAT) deficiency also causes COPD. Under the deficiency of AAT, the lungs have less protein to protect them from damage, thus resulting in COPD.

COPD is associated with several risk factors. Long-term exposure to tobacco smoke is a major risk factor for COPD. The risk of getting COPD increases with years of smoking tobacco (Barnett, 2006, p.8). Individuals exposed to marijuana smoke, cigars, second-hand smoke, as well as pipe smoke, may also be at risk of the disease (Mayo Clinic, 2018). An asthmatic individual who smokes has a high risk of getting COPD. The combination of asthma, obstruction in the airway passage as well as smoking lead increases the risk of COPD. Long-term exposure to dust, chemical fumes, vapour at workplace increases inflammation of lungs and risk of COPD (Berry and Wise, 2010, p.377). Genetic disorders such as alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency can also trigger COPD (Mayo Clinic, 2018). COPD can also be trigger by constant exposure to fumes from burning fuels from the poorly ventilated house.


COPD is a non-reversible condition of the lungs caused by the reduction in the size of airways passage. The limitation of airflow due to narrowing of the bronchioles and alveolus may cause cardiovascular disease, abnormal nutrition and weight loss, skeletal muscle dysfunction. Smoking, genetics, asthma as well as second-hand gases cause the disorder. COPD risk factors include long-term smoking, exposure to dust and inflammatory chemicals as well as AAT deficiency.


Agustí, A., 2007. Systemic effects of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: what we know and what we don't know (but should). Proceedings of the American Thoracic Society, 4(7), pp.522-525.

Barnes, P.J., 2007. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a growing but neglected global epidemic. PLoS medicine, 4(5), p.ep. e112.

Barnett, M. (2006). Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in Primary Care. Hoboken, Wiley

Berry, C.E., and Wise, R.A., 2010. Mortality in COPD: causes, risk factors, and prevention. COPD: Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, 7(5), pp.375-382.

Bupa. (2018). Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). [online] Mayo clinic. Available at: [Accessed 09 May. 2018].

Duncan, D., 2016. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: an overview. British Journal of Nursing, 25(7), pp.360-366.

Mayo Clinic. (2018). Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. [online] Mayo clinic. Available at: [Accessed 09 May. 2018].

Schols, A.M.W.J., 2000. Nutrition in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Current opinion in pulmonary medicine, 6(2), pp.110-115.

August 04, 2023




Subject area:


Number of pages


Number of words




Writer #



Expertise Cancer
Verified writer

Clive2020 is an excellent writer who is an expert in Nursing and Healthcare. He has helped me earn the best grades with a theorists paper and the shadowing journal. Great job that always stands out!

Hire Writer

Use this essay example as a template for assignments, a source of information, and to borrow arguments and ideas for your paper. Remember, it is publicly available to other students and search engines, so direct copying may result in plagiarism.

Eliminate the stress of research and writing!

Hire one of our experts to create a completely original paper even in 3 hours!

Hire a Pro