Sunday, January 15, 2006

lung disease, chronic obstructive (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a term used to describe a group of progressive respiratory disorders with diffuse abnormalities of gas transport and exchange. The elderly are subject to COPD due not only to the biological process of aging, which includes decreased pulmonary tissue elasticity, but to prolonged exposure to pollutants or occupational environment.
Cigarette smoking is a major factor in the development of COPD. Environmental exposures to sulfur dioxide, asbestos, and cotton dust are causative factors that predispose the respiratory tract to chronic infection. Repeated pulmonary infections can result in the alteration of lung structure and destruction of pulmonary tissue. The disease is more prevalent in men than in women.
Corticosteroid therapy plays an important role in the treatment of COPD. Inhaled corticosteroids may reduce steroid side effects.
Oral or parenteral corticosteroid therapy helps control inflammations and reduce secretions during acute exacerbations. The patient can be placed on a tapering regimen or alternate day steroid therapy. Patients even on short-term steroid therapy should be aware of the side effects of restlessness, mood changes, weight gain, and exacerbation of diabetes or hypertension. Cataracts, bone fragility, adrenal suppression, and immunosuppression are side-effects of long-term therapy.
See also BRONCHITIS, CHRONIC; EMPHYSEMA.
Rogers, S. C., and McCue, J. D. Managing Chronic Disease-1987. Oradell, N.J.: Medical Economics Co., 1987.
Scherer, J. C. Introductory Medical-Surgical Nursing. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1982.

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