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Free Example of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Essay

The case study presents the case of Mr. L. who is a 55-year old bartender living within a large city. He has been smoking heavily for the past forty years and was diagnosed with COPD seven years ago. While going to work, he boards the city bus which leaves him approximately three blocks away from his workplace, so he has to cover the remaining distance on foot. However, Mr. L. has found it very hard to walk continuously without making frequent stops to rest. In addition, his manager is concerned about the effect his continuous coughing will have on customers. This paper discusses the symptoms, causes and prognosis of COPD, the resultant needs of Mr. L. and the different ways in which the condition will affect his social experience.


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COPD also known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a disease of the lungs that makes it difficult for one to breathe (Gysels, Bausewein, & Higginson, 2007). The disease is progressive, meaning that it gets worse with time, and it is caused mainly by smoking, which significantly damages the lungs. COPD has two forms; chronic bronchitis and Emphysema. In chronic bronchitis, the airways carrying air to the lungs get inflamed resulting in abundant mucus production which can either block or narrow the airway, making it difficult to breath. In Emphysema, the air sacs in the lungs are damaged, making them unable to expand or contract (Gysels, Bausewein, & Higginson, 2007). This consequently reduces the amount of air that gets in and out of the lungs resulting in shortness of breath. It is important to note that while the damage to the lungs cannot be undone, various steps can be taken to prevent further damage and make a person feel much better.

Signs and Symptoms of COPD

Signs and symptoms of COPD vary from mild to severe depending on the severity of the disease. Generally, COPD symptoms do not appear until considerable damage has occurred to the lungs, which usually takes time. A majority of people with COPD experience more than one of the following symptoms:


Dyspnea is also called shortness of breath. It is caused by oxygen deficiency in the bloodstream which results in air hunger, causing difficult breathing (Gysels, Bausewein, & Higginson, 2007).

Chronic Cough

People with COPD have long-term coughs that do not seem to end. The cough can either produce mucus or not.

Increased Sputum Production

Substantial production of sputum/ mucus is associated with respiratory tract infection or inflammation and may be a sign of COPD (Gysels, Bausewein, & Higginson, 2007). The type of COPD one has greatly determines the consistency and color of sputum produced by the body.


Wheezing is the whistling sound that is heard when one inhales or exhales air, and is caused by the blockage or narrowing of the airways. People with OCPD often wheeze when they breathe (Gysels, Bausewein, & Higginson, 2007).

Chest Tightness

Chest tightness is the pressure in the walls of the chest that makes it hard for automated breathing to occur (Gysels, Bausewein, & Higginson, 2007). Some people with COPD experience chest tightness which is associated with pain during deep breathing.

Causes of COPD

Cigarette Smoking

Cigarette smoking is the main cause of COPD.† According to data from the American Lung Association, approximately 80%-90% of people diagnosed with COPD are chronic smokers (Mannino & Buist, 2007). How long a person has been smoking and the amount of individual smoke, increase the likelihood of developing the disease and strengthening its severity.

Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoking is a leading risk factor in the development of COPD. Children are the major victims of second-hand smoking.

Air Pollution

Numerous research studies have shown a link between airway diseases like COPD and air pollutants (Mannino & Buist, 2007). People should fight to save the environment from air pollution and other forms of destruction in order to ensure a better world for the future generation. Other causes of COPD include occupational exposures, as well as regular utilization of cooking fire in rooms with no proper ventilation.

Prognosis of COPD

Being a chronic illness, the prognosis of COPD is that the disease is likely to worsen with time if one does not stop smoking. In advanced stages, people with COPD will constantly become short of breath, making it hard for them to engage in their normal activities (Mannino & Buist, 2007).† In addition, they may require regular hospital admission in the future.

The Resultant Needs of Mr. L

Smoking damages the lungs over time and having smoked heavily for forty years, Mr. L.ís lungs must be significantly damaged; a justification of his diagnosis with COPD seven years ago. The fact that he cannot walk to his workplace without stopping frequently means that he is experiencing shortness of breath as a result of lack of enough oxygen in his bloodstream. Mr. L. requires both drug and non-drug therapies. To help him breathe easy, Mr. L. should see a doctor to prescribe inhalers that will help him with his breathing problem, as well as engage in breathing exercises to improve his breathing (Rocker, Sinuff, Horton, & Hernandez, 2007). He might also consider lung transplant to improve his lung function and general quality of life. In addition, his breathing problem is likely to impact on his eating, which can result in malnutrition. Consequently, his energy needs will increase, and therefore, his family members should ensure that he is given a balanced diet (Rocker, Sinuff, Horton, & Hernandez, 2007). Most importantly, Mr. L. needs the love, support and care of his family and friends. It is not easy to live with a chronic disease such as COPD without getting depressed; therefore, his family and friends should be there to support and comfort him.

The effects of COPD on Mr. L.ís social experience are many and varied. For instance, the gradual physical incapacitation associated with the disease might force Mr. L. to increasingly depend on his spouse, family members, or friends for care and support (Rocker, Sinuff, Horton, & Hernandez, 2007). It is worth noting that caring for people with COPD† is not only involving but also isolates the caregiver from the rest of the world due to the constant attention required by the patient. As a result, the disease may not only result in family conflict but also frustration especially from the younger members of the family who expect their needs to be provided for, yet their father (Mr. L.) is unable because of his illness (Rocker, Sinuff, Horton, & Hernandez, 2007). Mr. Lís significant other may have to take charge of providing for the family if her husband cannot continue with work, and this can be devastating, especially when he or she knows that he brought the disease upon himself. Consequently, there may be constant family quarrels. From the case, we have been told that Mr. L.s manager is concerned of the impact his constant coughing will have on his customers. It is highly likely that there will be a reduction in the number of customers going to the bar for fear of being infected with Mr. L.ís disease. In addition, his family and friends are likely to experience a financial strain because of the high cost of treatment of COPD. In worst cases, Mr. L. may even be isolated as people may not want to associate with him.

In conclusion, COPD is a disease of the lungs that makes it difficult for one to breathe. The effects of the disease are numerous from physical incapacitation that leads to dependency, family strife, to financial strain on family members and friends. However, the good news is that the disease can subside when one stops smoking. It is important for all smokers to know that smoking kills and it is never too late to quit the habit.

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