Every Breath I Take: Understanding COPD

Every Breath I Take: Understanding COPD

Learn about the pathophysiology of COPD, its causes and symptoms

The pathophysiology of COPD is the understanding of the structural changes that occur in the body as a result of the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The complexity of COPD and its nature of prolonged existence without detection as well as the difficulty in defining this condition precisely necessitates this study and offers an insight into the pathophysiology of COPD. For those who are suffering from this disease, knowing what changes to observe may help you in seeking treatment at the right time. Thanks to the ever-increasing number of COPD patients, COPD pathophysiology may be helpful in tracing COPD signs and symptoms. This way, we can effectively manage this condition.

We would be very wrong if we relied entirely on the doctors to enlighten us on what steps we need to take to manage COPD. We have a significant role to play as far as managing this disease is concerned. COPD occurs in four different stages – each of which is characterized by specific changes in the body. Pathophysiology of COPD is therefore important in helping us understand what to observe at each stage. This will, in turn, help us manage the situation and prevent further spread. Besides, this will also help us draw the line between fats and myths.

To most of us, when we are told that we are in our “end-stage COPD,” we will take this as a death sentence. The agony, confusion, and fear may be unbearable- more or so when we do not have an idea of the pathophysiology of COPD. This is precisely why we need to get the facts right! Broadly, there are four stages of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease depended on calculated tests – commonly known as normal predictions.

In the first stage, concerning the normal predictions, “forced expiratory volume per second” (FEV1) is about eighty percent. In this stage, the patient may not have any visible changes (symptoms) in his body. Here, the COPD is still mild.

In stage two, the FEV1 averages 65 percent of the average prediction. This is the moderate stage of COPD and changes such as coughs, shirt breaths and exertion might be seen.

Pathophysiology of COPD also helps us understand whether the inflammation has reached its third stage – severe COPD. Here, we expect to see frequent exacerbations, short breaths, and at times, extra hospitalization. The FEV1 decreases to less than 40 percent.

In the fourth stage, Fev1 is below thirty percent typically suggests that the condition has reached a very severe stage. Stage IV is often frequently referred to as the “end-stage.”

Pathophysiology of COPD is not a bed of roses as it is quite hard to appreciate. It is meant to exhibit the structural changes in the airways, dysfunctions of the cilia and the responses to the inflammatory. All these are responsible for blocking the airways of the lungs. Excessive smoking as well as over inhalation of lung irritants such as pollens, contaminated air, smoke, dust and a variety of other lung-damaging chemicals; leads to responses of COPD. This makes pathophysiology of COPD difficult.

Whereas inhalers can be used to treat some COPD symptoms such as the productive coughs; they may not always replicate the same results for every patient. Breathlessness and the wheezing problem might not be eased by modern medications. One of the ways to ensure that the pathophysiology of COPD is somewhat successful is to avoid altogether or stop everything that will accelerate the situation. If you are damn serious about fighting this disease, then you’ve got little or no choice other than quit smoking!

Smoking, Life Expectancy, and Pathophysiology of COPD.

Every day, close to 250 people around the world succumb to COPD complications. This is because even in 2017, there has not yet been a precise pathophysiology of COPD. As such, late-stage COPD diagnosis may sometimes be discovered too late and by the time where the situation is out of hand. Early detection is the key to success, so If the disorder is not detected early enough, the patients’ life expectancy may be significantly reduced.

Tobacco smoking is the chief cause of COPD, though there are other causative factors as well. The beauty with lungs is that they can tremendously restore their functioning capabilities but again; this will be dependent on how soon you quit smoking.

However, if COPD has advanced to the third or fourth stages, quitting smoking alone may not be enough to increase your life expectancy. It needs to be combined with other treatment methods such as oxygen therapy. Your continued smoking complicates further the pathophysiology of COPD.

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Cancer, Mother Of All Diseases

Despite the pain and loss that the disease has called, it is fascinating to understand the inner workings of this disease biological to us.

This semester in college, I decided to expand my horizons and sign up for a class called "Cancer, Mother of All Diseases." Little did I know that within two class sessions, I knew that my life was going to change with the information and knowledge that I was acquiring. Everyone is affected by cancer — whether they themselves have been diagnosed, or their loved one.

Two years ago, a 21-year-old man told me, "I do not know of anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer." And by now, even he has been affected. Cancer is a process genetic to our makeup and important for the concept of evolution. There will never be a time when cancer will be eradicated as it is a process innate to us. However, the rates of cancer incidence can be reduced through preventative measures.

There are many types of cancer and this killer term cannot be summed up in a simple sentence or two or a treatment of two as this term is an umbrella for various types. These types include colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, melanoma, and so many others.

I never realized what a drastic effect this disease has had in my life until I started really examining the details. My grandmother passed away from cancer and my time with her was significantly shortened. My best friend's father passed away from cancer. My classmate passed away from cancer.

This killer disease may not be able to be stopped completely but we should take the precautions to avoid diagnosis in the first place. No one ever thinks they will hear the words, "I'm sorry, but you have cancer" however this diagnosis is quite real and happens to more people that we could fathom within the course of life.

Cancer affects everybody, especially those pursuing the medical field as one day, they will be interacting with patients who have been diagnosed and need help and support as their body turns against them. The role of the doctor when dealing with the cancer is to help the patient have a normal lifespan reducing the number of deaths that occur because of this disease.

I am very excited about the wisdom and knowledge that I am learning through this class as it is beneficial to both my future career plans as well as understanding the nature of this disease and its mechanics. There are many extra, fun classes at Arizona State University to take however three days into my semester, I already know that this class will be my favorite as the knowledge is important to understand. Despite the pain and loss that the disease has called, it is fascinating to understand the inner workings of this disease biological to us.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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The Sad Silence Of Autism

A Short Story of Child Who Can't Speak

Being nonverbal can be so depressing. You have all these things you want to say but physically can't, and no one understands what you want or how you feel. It's so frustrating. Fortunately, this is not me but, unfortunately, this is the everyday life of my 5-year-old son Christian. He was diagnosed with autism at 3 years old and has yet to be able to call me mommy.

I've always been the level-headed one of the family who looked at everything realistically and searched for solutions. I always wanted to know why. But when my husband and I found out that Christian was autistic, there really was no why to find out since research leaves it a mystery. Instead, I focused on what the next steps were to help him. My husband was speechless, upset, and it was a bit surreal for him. However, I was eager to do whatever was necessary short of medication. Super-mom mode activated!

Then the reality of waiting lists set in. We had to wait to get him into therapy, but Christian's life wasn't going to stop just because he didn't have a therapist right then. So I read, I learned, and when he finally started speech therapy, he prospered. Now, fast-forward to present day where his speech therapy has been placed on pause and he's learning in occupational therapy. He's still doing well, but he just can't verbalize. We know it's in him because he's had a few words here and there, but it's stopped.

His counting has gone from sounds of numbers to random noises and skipping numbers. He gives no feedback in trying to learn new words and sounds and doesn't even participate in an alphabet game that he started. Regression at its finest. With all the eagerness and strength I had before, I found this discouraging. In fact, I try to prepare myself for the realization that he may never learn to speak. And it was this thought that drove me into such a depression that I couldn't even look at my child without wanting to cry.

What many people don't know is that when you have one child with autism, your chances of having another child with it skyrockets. How paranoid can that make a parent? Pretty damned paranoid. So much so that everything that Christian's baby brother does is being watched and calculated.

I get so worried that he won't speak either that I judge his development based on other babies his age. Truthfully, I use them as a blueprint. I know I shouldn't, but I worry that neither of my kids will have a typical life.

Out of all of Christian's challenges, I think that his inability to speak is the hardest one to live with. It's not just hard for his parents but for him as well because he's trying so hard to communicate but we just don't get it much of the time. These are the moments I have to remind myself that things take time, especially good things. And the progress he's already made is nothing short of amazing.

For more information about autism and resources, visit www.autismspeaks.org.

Cover Image Credit: Carolyn Poindexter

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