Describes changes occurring at the cellular, tissue, and/or organ level that contribute to the disease process.

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Cellular level. Damage to specific cells or groups of cells at the cellular level can lead to disease. It could be a genetic mutation that causes abnormal proteins to be made or reduced functionality as a result of inflammation. This can cause disruption in cell communication and a loss of normal function.

Tissue level: Diseases can occur at the tissue-level due to disruptions in the interaction of different elements. For instance, if there is an increase in collagen production due to chronic inflammation then it could lead to scarring and fibrosis—a condition where tissues become thickened and less functional. In addition, hormones produced by malfunctioning organs can have adverse effects on nearby tissues or cause hormonal imbalances.

Organ Level: At the organ level, diseases are defined as changes to organ function or structure. They can be caused by lack of stimulation or atrophy. Hypertrophy can cause an increase in size. Both can lead to serious consequences if they are not treated. It is possible for some organs to stop making certain substances and others may become more active depending on the underlying circumstances.

All three levels of the system are interconnected and need to be maintained in a healthy state. A failure on one level can lead to a chain reaction, which may cause further problems throughout the body. Understanding how each of these systems works will help us to spot potential problems sooner than we think. Then, appropriate intervention can be made before permanent damage is done.

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