BIOL 301 6382 Part II: Evidence-based Diagnosis

BIOL 301 6382 Part II: Evidence-based Diagnosis

BIOL 301 6382 Part II: Evidence-based Diagnosis

Diseases fall into two categories: communicable and noncommunicable, which leads to different approaches to the management of such conditions. For example, COPD is a noncommunicable disease while COVID-19 is a communicable disease. The two conditions share some similar characteristics but differ in others. The purpose of this paper is to explore the symptoms, testing, and risk factors for each condition and show the similarities and differences between the two conditions.


The signs and symptoms of COPD include chest tightness, wheezing, chronic cough, shortness of breath, respiratory illnesses, swelling of legs, feet, and ankles, unexplained weight loss, and loss of energy. COPD has two phases, for example, the exacerbation phase when the symptoms are severe and the normal phase when there are barely any symptoms. COPD affects the pulmonary and respiratory systems. COPD occurs when particulate matter or fumes from smoking enters the lungs causing damage to the airway and tiny air sacs leading to chest tightness (Hikichi et al., 2019). Chest tightness causes difficulties in breathing because of the obstructed airway, also resulting in cough, wheezing, and respiratory infections.

Spirometry involves blowing air into a tube, which measures the amount of air a person can inhale or exhale. The information from spirometry shows how much air a person’s lungs can hold and the speed of blowing air out of the lungs (Bollmeier & Hartmann, 2020). Ultimately, the data reveals whether the lungs transport oxygen to the blood.

A chest X-ray is a radiograph of the chest showing the status of the organs. Information from a chest X-ray can reveal enlarged lungs flattened diaphragm, or air pockets, which reveal compromised airways consistent with COPD (Fazleen & Wilkinson, 2020).


The signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include loss of taste, tiredness, fever, and cough. Other less common

BIOL 301 6382 Part II Evidence-based Diagnosis
BIOL 301 6382 Part II Evidence-based Diagnosis

symptoms are headache, sore throat, skin rash, diarrhoea, red eyes, and aches and pain. In severe cases, COVID-19 causes difficulties in breathing, chest pain, and loss of speech or mobility. COVID-19 is characterized by the movement of the virus from the nasal epithelium to affect the upper respiratory affecting the airways where it causes narrowing of the chest and obstruction that causes cough and production of the septum, breathing irregularities, and chest pain (Marik et al., 2021).

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Testing for COVID-19 uses the polymerase chain reaction involves taking a specimen from the upper respiratory. The tests check for the presence of SARS-CoV-2. The test gives either negative or positive results confirming COVID-19 (Wiersinga, 2020).

Comparing COPD and COVID-19

The two conditions are similar because they affect the respiratory system and exacerbation in both cases causes shortness of breath and the risk of respiratory distress. Additionally, symptoms such as the production of septum and coughing are also similar to communicable and non-communicable diseases. The difference between the two conditions is that communicable disease COVID is caused by a virus while noncommunicable disease, COPD results from particulate matter from smoking or inhalation of gases and other matter.

The risk factors of COVID-19 are age, pregnancy, preexisting medical conditions such as diabetes, medications, poverty, and overcrowding conditions such as prison. Some of these risk factors such as low socioeconomic status and overcrowding are modifiable (Wiersinga, 2020). These can be changed through the increase in resources and equitable distribution of wealth to upgrade the lives of everyone. On the other hand, the risk factors of COPD are occupational exposure to chemicals and dust, asthma, exposure to fumes, genetics, and exposure to cigarette smoke. Most of the risk factors of COPD are modifiable, for example, tobacco smoking, occupational exposures, and exposure to fumes are all lifestyle factors that can be modified (Bollmeier & Hartmann, 2020). These can be changed by stopping smoking, staying away from sources of secondary smoke, and changing occupations. The two conditions do not have any risk factors in common. Another element that is different between the two conditions is diagnostic tests. COPD uses spirometry while COVID-19 uses PCR tests. However, in advanced cases, a CT scan can be done in both scenarios to investigate the organs affected by the conditions.

Regarding treatment, COPD is a chronic condition with no cure but can be managed using bronchodilators, which slow the progression of the condition (Bollmeier & Hartmann, 2020). On the other hand, in COVID-19, the FDA-approved Remdesivir is used for the treatment of the condition. The symptoms can also be managed by over-the-counter medication (Bruno, 2021). Similarly, oxygen therapy is considered in cases of severe shortness of breath.

Race predisposes individuals to COPD, as evidence shows that whites are more likely to develop the condition compared to Blacks and Hispanics. In COVID-19, the predisposing factors are age, and socioeconomic status (Wiersinga, 2020). The response to the predisposing factor of socioeconomic status occurs in the form of policies that address poverty and enhance the equitable distribution of resources. An example of societal factors that predisposes people to COVID-19 are things like a prison where crowding cannot be controlled. This is addressed by increasing resources and reducing congestion in the prison system.


The discussion shows that both COPD and COVID-19 affect the respiratory system with some similar symptoms including fatigue, obstruction of the airway leading to shortness of breath and chest pain. The diagnostic tools for COPD are chest X-ray and spirometer while the test for COVID-19 is a PCR test. Similarly, the diseases are caused by varying risk factors, for example, COPD is mainly caused by tobacco smoking necessitating smoking cessation. On the other hand, risk factors of COVID-19 include age, overcrowding, poverty, and underlying medical conditions. These factors are mostly modifiable.



Bollmeier, S., & Hartmann, A. (2020). Management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: A review focusing on exacerbations. Am J Health Syst Pharm. , 77(4):259-268. https://WWW.doi.10.1093/ajhp/zxz306.

Bruno, R. (2021). Special Issue “COVID-19: Current Understanding of Its Pathophysiology, Clinical Presentation and Treatment”. Journal of Personal Medicine.

Fazleen, A., & Wilkinson, T. (2020). Early COPD: current evidence for diagnosis and management. SAGE Journals,

Hikichi, M., Mizumura, K., Maruoka, S., & Gon, Y. (2019). Pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) induced by cigarette smoke. J Thorac Dis, 11(Suppl 17): S2129-S2140. https://www.doi.10.21037/jtd.2019.10.43.

Marik, P., Iglesias, J., Varon, J., & Kory, P. (2021). A scoping review of the pathophysiology of COVID-19. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol, 20587384211048026. doi: 10.1177/20587384211048026.

Wiersinga, W. (2020). Pathophysiology, Transmission, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): A Review. JAMA, 324(8), 782–793. https://www.doi.10.1001/jama.2020.12839.