Free Essay: Vital Capacity
Vital capacity refers to the maximum volume of air that an individual can expel from their lungs after inhaling a maximum amount of air. Vital capacity is the same as the sum of the inspiratory reserve volume, expiratory reserve volume and tidal volume. A wet or regular spirometer is used to measure the vital capacity of a person.
To determine if a patient has a lung disease, doctors combine this measurement with physiological measurements. A normal adult has a vital capacity of between 3 and 5L. Vital capacity varies in individuals depending on various factors that include weight, height, age, ethnicity and sex. Disability, chronic respiratory illness and obesity are associated with a low vital capacity.
Among the factors that affect vital capacity include exercise and smoking. Exercising increases vital capacity. This is because muscles of the respiratory system require more nutrients to perform exercises. Exercise strengthens the muscles which enables them to take in extra oxygen needed by the body. The lungs expand further in order to take extra oxygen and this increases vital capacity.
Another major factor that affects vital capacity is smoking. Smoking decreases the amount of air that an individual inhales. In most cases, adolescent individuals have their vital capacity decreased by smoking. The effects that smoking has on the vital capacity of individuals are higher in adolescent girls than in adolescent boys.
Nevertheless, it is possible to increase vital capacity. Engaging in sports that require taking in large amounts of air can help in increasing vital capacity. Such exercises include playing wind instruments, physical workout, breathing techniques and counted breathing.
These are some of the exercises that strengthen the respiratory muscles. When the respiratory muscles are strong, they are able to draw in more air. This is the case for most athletes who have always engaged in these exercises to strengthen their respiratory muscles.
Other factors such as diseases and infections of the pleura and the lungs affect the vital capacity negatively. Such diseases include chronic asthma, chronic bronchitis, tuberculosis and pulmonary edema among others. Abnormal ventilation caused by air obstruction or lungs’ fibrosis can also affect the vital capacity of a person.
Mechanical disruption of the chest compression and expansion can also affect the vital capacity. Other factors that affect vital capacity include sex and age. Vital capacity is 20 to 30% less in females than in males. It is also high in young people. The surface area of an individual and posture also affects their vital capacity.
It is important to maintain a high vital capacity because low vital capacity is associated with various health complications that include the lack of sufficient oxygen for metabolic function, decreased endurance, general fatigue and poor energy, increased inflammation and decline in concentration, memory and general focus.
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