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Are Asthma And Copd The Same Thing

Accelerated Decline In Lung Function

Asthma and COPD: Same or Different?

Since COPD represents incomplete reversibility of airflow obstruction, then any risk factor that leads to accelerated loss of lung function will contribute to the development of COPD. Several risk factors for accelerated decline in include age, smoking, BHR, asthma and exacerbations or lower respiratory infections. Increasing age is associated with decline in lung function, both in asthma and in those without asthma.


Loss of lung function is accelerated by smoking by up to 50 ml per year, and there is an established doseâresponse relationship. The loss of lung function with smoking may even be greater in those with asthma, such that smokers with asthma can develop COPD. Importantly, quitting smoking slows the decline in lung function. In the Lung Health Study, the annual decline in FEV1 in people who quit smoking at the beginning of the 11 year study was 30 ml/year for men and 22 ml/year for women. Continued smoking led to a decline in FEV1 of 66 ml/year in men and 52 ml/year in women.

Bronchial hyper-responsiveness


The deficits in lung function in asthma seem to arise early in the course of the disease, and may be an effect of incomplete lung growth. In one study, abnormal lung function at age 26 in patients with asthma was related to male sex, BHR at age 9 years, early onset of asthma and reduced lung function by age 9 years.


Both Conditions Have Similar Symptoms Like Wheezing And Shortness Of Breath

If you feel short of breath while exercising, or youre prone to fits of coughing, you may be wondering if asthma or COPD could be to blame. Asthma and are often confused or lumped together because they share some of the same symptoms.

Both conditions cause wheezing and shortness of breath, says , a pulmonary, internal medicine and critical care specialist from Lourdes Health System in Camden, New Jersey. But not everyone who wheezes has asthma, nor do they necessarily have COPDit takes a little more investigating to figure out which condition it is.

Here are some key similarities between the two conditions and how to tell them apart.

What are asthma and COPD? Asthma is a chronic lung disease that often appears during childhood. It may be reversed over time, but many people have for life. It causes airway tightening, inflammation and constriction in the lungs. The small airways actually narrow, leading to shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing, says Dr. Roy.

These symptoms become especially severe during asthma attacks. Asthma attacks may be brought on by a number of such as allergies, exercise, irritating fragrances and lung infections. Attacks can be life threatening, but theyre usually treatable at home with rescue inhalers like albuterol.

COPD is a group of chronic lung diseases, which are almost always caused by smoking and dont typically appear until after age 40. These diseases include chronic bronchitis and emphysema, says Roy.

  • Avoiding triggers

Staging And Treatment Of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

The stages of COPD are defined primarily by lung function . This emphasises the important clinical message that the diagnosis of COPD requires the measurement of lung function. The stages of COPD suggested in the GOLD Guidelines are as follows. Stage 0: At risk, cough or sputum present but lung function normal. Stage 1: Mild COPD, FEV1/forced vital capacity <70%, with an FEV1 â¥80% predicted, with or without chronic symptoms. Stage 2: Moderate COPD, FEV1/FVC <70% and FEV1 % pred>30% and <80%. Stage 2 is split at an FEV1 of 50% pred since the existing data support the value of inhaled corticosteroids below an FEV1 of 50% pred but not above. Stage 3: Severe COPD, FEV1<30% pred and FEV1/FVC <70%.

In the GOLD guidelines, Stage 0 is a newly defined stage that was included to give a strong public health message that symptoms of chronic cough and sputum production should alert the clinician to the presence ofan ongoing pathophysiological process even when lung function is normal. This may progress to clinically significant COPD in a proportion of those exposed . The analogy that is perhaps most relevant is that mild hypertension in some but not all , with mild elevation of blood pressure will progress to clinically significant hypertension.

Who Can Get Asthma Or Copd

The most common risk factors for developing asthma is if you have a parent with asthma, or have had a severe respiratory infection as a child, or have an allergic condition, or have been exposed to certain chemical irritants or industrial dust in the workplace.

Risk factors for COPD include:

  • Exposure to cigarette smoke
  • Smokers with asthma 
  • Exposure to dust and chemicals at work
  • COPD develops slowly over the years, so most people are at least 40 years old when symptoms begin
  • A rare genetic disorder alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency is the cause of some cases of COPD

Clinical Recognition And Inflammatory Features Of The Overlap Syndrome: What Is It

Asthma vs. COPD: What

The clinical recognition of both asthma and COPD requires assessment of symptoms and physiological abnormalities . Symptoms can indicate the presence of a disease process; however, their sensitivity and specificity for asthma or COPD may be limited. At a physiological level, patients with overlap syndrome have evidence of incompletely reversible airflow obstruction that can be detected by a reduced postbronchodilator FEV1 . In addition, they have increased variability of airflow, which can be determined by increased bronchodilator responsiveness or BHR. The presence of airflow obstruction can confound the assessment of BHR in COPD. For recognition of the overlap syndrome, it may be preferable to use an indirect acting stimulus to assess BHR. Such agents do not directly cause airway smooth muscle contraction, and include hypertonic saline, adenosine and mannitol.

Informative data can be obtained from studies of discrete patient groups who have features of asthma and COPD. These groups include patients with asthma who smoke, those with asthma who develop incompletely reversible airflow obstruction and non-smokers who develop COPD. Smokers with asthma have features resembling COPD, since they are less responsive to corticosteroids and are less likely to have eosinophilic inflammation and more likely to have increased airway neutrophilia.

How To Tell If You Have Asthma

Asthma is a condition that happens due to inflammation of the airways, which causes difficulty in breathing. It can determine important aspects of daily life such as performing certain physical activities. Detecting this condition is essential to ge the appropriate treatment that reduces symptoms and allows the patient to lead a better quality of life. If you asking yourself how to tell if you have asthma, keep reading, because at oneHOWTO we explain everything step by step.

Before starting with the main signs that can show that you have asthma, it is important to know who has the highest risk of suffering from this condition. Although this is not necessarily conditional, asthma usually occurs commonly in people who have a family history of this condition, but also in those who suffer from diseases that can increase the sensitivity of the respiratory tract such as allergies, allergic rhinitis or eczema.

On the other hand, there are certain triggers that can increase the possibility of suffering from asthma in a high percentage, among them the most common are:

  • Living in an environment surrounded by animals, as most pets dander and coat can trigger asthma.
  • The presence of mites.
  • Being in an environment where there is a lot of pollution, pollen, tobacco smoke or chemicals that can affect breathing.
  • Environments full of mold and high in moisture.
  • People who have other respiratory infections.
  • People who suffer from stress.

The main symptoms of asthma are:

What Causes Asthma And Copd

The main cause of COPD is tobacco smoke. COPD also affects people who inhale fumes from cooking fuel and heating in poorly ventilated homes.

When you have asthma, your airways react to different particles present in the environment. These are called asthma triggers. Exposure to these triggers causes asthma symptoms to worsen. Common asthma triggers include infections, pollen, dust, pet dander, and pollutants, and tobacco smoke.

Is Chronic Asthma The Same As Copd

Chronic asthma and COPD can have similar symptoms, but they are considered distinct conditions. COPD refers specifically to chronic bronchitis, emphysema or both.

Other differences include the fact that asthma tends to start during childhood, while COPD is more likely to appear among adults who smoke.

Myth 4: People With Copd Shouldnt Exercise

Long Case Presentation : COPD VS ASTHMA

Many people with COPD are afraid to exercise for fear it is unsafe and will make them short of breath. The fact is that people with COPD need to exercise, explains Kathrin Nicolacakis, MD, a pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic. Exercise is important when you have COPD because it decreases your chances of having infections and being admitted to the hospital, she says. Exercise doesnt drain your energy. Rather, it energizes you and helps you feel less tired. Talk to your COPD doctor about appropriate exercises and breathing techniques in pulmonary rehabilitation, and maintain that level of exercise going forward, Dr. Nicolacakis says. Activity and exercise are encouraged in patients with COPD and formal programs, sometimes with the aid of oxygen, may benefit those with severe disease, notes Dr. Hanania. Walking in particular is strongly encouraged, but stretching the upper and lower extremities is another type of exercise that can be helpful, he adds.

RELATED: 10 Habits That Can Worsen COPD

What Causes Emphysema

Smoking is the number one factor. Because of this, emphysema is one of the most preventable types of respiratory diseases. Air pollutants in the home and workplace, genetic factors , and respiratory infections can also play a role in causing emphysema.

Cigarette smoking not only destroys lung tissue, it also irritates the airways. This causes inflammation and damage to cilia that line the bronchial tubes. This results in swollen airways, mucus production, and difficulty clearing the airways. All of these changes can lead to shortness of breath.

Stage 3 Copd Symptoms

COPD symptoms at stage 3 are more serious and frequent than at the previous stages. You might also notice new symptoms you didnt have before.

Here are some of the common symptoms associated with stage 3 COPD:

  • Worsening breathlessness
  • Increased number of symptom exacerbations
  • FEV1 Value of 30-49% of normal

What you will likely notice most is that your symptoms are more debilitating and come more often than they did previously. As your symptoms add up you will need to pay even more attention to how your body feels and monitor your symptoms more carefully.

Similarities And Differences In Regular Standard Treatment Of Asthma And Copd

  • In both diseases the adequate treatment may reduce symptoms and number of exacerbations and improve the quality of life.

  • Treatment of asthma is characterized by suppression of inflammation.

  • Treatment of COPD is characterized by decreasing of symptoms.

The GOAL of treatment in ASTHMA is to: reduce inflammation and to achieve¸total control . The GOAL of treatment in COPD is to: reduce symptoms, prevent exacerbations and decrease mortality . In both asthma and COPD almost the same drugs are used, but not in the same order and the same efficiency in treatment.

The Difference Between Copd And Emphysema

Asthma vs. COPD: What

Blossoms on the trees, green grass, and sprouting flowers are all staples of the spring season, and just thinking about them makes you want to breathe in the fresh spring air. Of course, taking in those deep breaths of fresh air is easier for some than others. People with COPD or emphysema will find it more difficult to breathe than those with a healthy respiratory system. But whats the difference between COPD and emphysema?

COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is an overarching term that can include many different diseases of the lungs such as bronchiectasis, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. COPD interferes with normal breathing and is usually permanent and progressive, meaning that the disease stays with you your entire life and gets more severe over time. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can cause a number of symptoms including shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, chest pains, and the over-production of mucus in the airways.

The term COPD often includes both emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

There are four different stages of COPD which are measured by forced expiratory volume, or the amount of air that your lungs displace during a forced breath. In the first stage, forced expiratory volume will be above 80%. By the final stage, the forced expiratory volume is below 35%.

Inflammatory Cells In Copd

Neutrophils are present in sputum of smokers but increased in COPD and related to disease severity. They may be important in mucus hypersecretion and through release of proteases. Macrophages: big numbers are in airway lumen, lung parenchyma, and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. They produce increased inflammatory mediators and proteases and may show defective phagocytosis. T lymphocytes: both CD4+ and CD8+ cells are increased in the airway wall and lung parenchyma, with big CD8+/CD4+ ratio. Increased is the number of CD8+ T cells and Th1 cells which secrete interferon- and express the chemokine receptor CXCR3. CD8+ cells may be cytotoxic to alveolar cells. B lymphocytes: are increased in peripheral airways and within lymphoid follicles, possibly as a response to colonization and infection. Eosinophils: increased eosinophil proteins in sputum and eosinophils in airway wall during exacerbations. Epithelial cells: May be activated by cigarette smoke to produce inflammatory mediators .

Can You Have Both Copd And Asthma

Yes, people can have symptoms of both COPD and asthma. Its called the asthma-COPD overlap syndrome. People with the overlap syndrome tend to be younger than those with COPD and older than those with asthma, and they have symptoms more often than people with COPD or asthma alone. When you have asthma for many years, it can also start to behave more like COPD than asthma. Sometimes the distinction can be hard to make.

What Are Some Tips For Managing Emphysema

The best way to prevent or reduce further problems is to prevent respiratory infections by:

  • Practicing good handwashing methods
  • Brushing and flossing teeth daily, and using an antibacterial mouth rinse after meals
  • Keeping breathing equipment clean
  • Keeping your house clean and free of dust
  • Getting a flu shot every year
  • Following a doctor-prescribed exercise program
  • Avoiding irritants such as:

Understanding The Difference Between Bronchiectasis And Copd

Distinguishing Between ASTHMA and COPD part 1

For many people living with impaired breathing, bronchiectasis and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease may seem like similar terms. They each affect an individuals ability to release air from the lungs and cause frequent coughing, breathlessness, and wheezing. In fact, it is not unusual for a person to experience symptoms of both bronchiectasis and COPD simultaneously. To find the best treatment to help manage your bronchiectasis or COPD symptoms, it is important that you understand the differences between the two lung conditions.

Bronchiectasis is an irreversible, chronic condition where the airways in your lungs become damaged and abnormally widened from recurring inflammation or infection.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Bronchiectasis Include:

  • Chronic cough that produces mucus
  • Recurrent respiratory infections
  • Breathlessness and wheezing
  • General fatigue

COPD is similar to bronchiectasis in that it causes frequent pneumonias, inflammation, and permanent damage to your lungs. However, COPD is used as an umbrella term to describe other impaired breathing conditions, such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or asthma.

Can Asthma Turn Into Copd

Asthma doesnt always lead to COPD, but it is a risk factor. Lung damage caused by poorly controlled asthma along with continual exposure to irritants like cigarette smoke or occupational chemicals and fumes is irreversible and can increase a persons risk of developing the lung disease COPD. It is possible to have both asthma and COPD, a condition called Asthma-COPD overlap syndrome .

Effects Of Smoking On Your Lungs

Healthy lungs filter the air we breathe.

Your lungs trap pollutants with a thin layer of mucous coating. Tiny brushes known as cilia sweep away the harmful particles so that they can be removed from your lungs. When you cough, dirt and pollutants are brought up with the mucus.

Because smoking destroys the cilia, your lungs cant work properly theres no proper way for the particles to get out. This results in damage to the tiny air sacs in the lungs called alveoli. This damage occurs in people with emphysema.

Inflammation caused by smoking can lead to chronic bronchitis and damage the breathing tubes and bronchi, even though the alveoli may not yet be damaged permanently.

Copd And Aging: Everything You Need To Know

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is one of the most prevalent lung conditions, affecting more than 328 million people around the world and an estimated 16 million people in the United States alone. 

Despite how common COPD is, its often overshadowed by other chronic illnesses like lung cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. A report published by the EMBO Journal found that, while COPD results in about 300,000 deaths per year nearly double that of lung cancer it received less than a third of the funding.

While the inequity in COPD research funding can only be addressed through political and social advocacy, healthy lifestyle choices remain the best way to prevent and treat COPD. And in order to make healthy lifestyle choices, you need to stay educated about how your lungs work. There are a lot of things to consider depending on what stage of your life youre in and whether or not youve already been diagnosed with COPD.

In this post, were going to address some key facts about aging and how it affects the prognosis of people with COPD and those who are at risk of contracting COPD. In the meantime, if you are interested in getting tested for COPD, be sure to consult your doctor immediately to start discussing your symptoms.

Asthma Vs Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Too much oxygen can kill you

Asthma is a respiratory condition that comes with spasms in the bronchi of the lungs that make it difficult to breathe. It is often mistaken for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. When someone has COPD they experience a decrease in airflow over a period of time. They also have inflammation of the tissues that line the airway. The issue of asthma vs. COPD is really about age.

People with asthma are normally diagnosed at a young age; however, COPD symptoms usually appear in adults over the age of 40 who currently smoke or smoked at some point in their lives. The triggers for asthma are also different than those for COPD. For example, asthma is made worse by allergens, cold air and exercise. COPD sufferers feel worse when they experience respiratory infections, such as the common flu, pneumonia or environmental pollution. What sometimes confuses both patients and doctors is that asthma and COPD can share similar symptoms, including shortness of breath and airway hyper-responsiveness. This is when our airways are very sensitive to things we inhale.

Both asthma and COPD can be treated. Quitting smoking and applying treatments that can open airways can be helpful. Still, loss of full lung function is only reversible in people who suffer from asthma. If someone is diagnosed with both asthma and COPD, it will likely lead to a faster decline in lung function as the COPD progresses.

Asthma Versus Copd: Differences And Similarities

6 mins readChronic asthma and COPD can have similar symptoms, impaired mobility, while COPD is usually diagnosed in adults over 40 with a history of smoking, Asthma Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the airways of the lung, asthma was an umbrella term under which all lung diseases fell, wheezing, However, COPD Vs Asthma Differences, heavy cigarette smoking, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma are both diseases ofBecause asthma and COPD have a number of similarities, Today, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, There are not perfect lines separating these medical conditions, depression, The main clinical difference between the two is that the airway obstruction in asthma is fully reversible, However, COPD is never asthma.

It’s Easy To Get The Care You Need

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma are often mistaken for one another. Thats understandable. These two lung diseases share some of the same symptoms: wheezing, chronic coughing and shortness of breath.

To further cloud the distinction, about 40 percent of people who have COPD also have asthma. Asthma and COPD share some of the same risk factors such as smoking tobacco, exposure to air pollutants at home and work, genetics and respiratory infections. And asthma is considered a risk factor that increases the chances of developing COPD.

But asthma and COPD are two distinct diseases. Here are two distinct differences. 

  • Age at diagnosis: Asthma, in most cases, is diagnosed in childhood. COPD symptoms usually first appear after the age of 40 and, in most cases, among current or former smokers.
  • Disease triggers: Asthma is usually triggered by exposure to allergens, cold air and exercise. COPD is primarily aggravated by respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia and the flu, and exposure to environmental pollutants.

A third difference is that COPD ranks high in third place on the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions list of leading causes of death, after heart disease and cancer.The good news is that with proper treatment, such as quitting smoking, airway-opening medications and avoidance of irritants and allergens, people with asthma and COPD can live more comfortably.

Knowing The Differences Between Copd And Asthma Is Vital To Good Practice

This content was published in 2011. We do not recommend that you take any clinical decisions based on this information without first ensuring you have checked the latest guidance.

The Outcomes strategy for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma was launched in July 2011 by the Department of Health, with the overall aim to drive improvements in outcomes for patients.1 Once implemented, it is expected to help people to avoid lung disease and lead longer and healthier lives. The strategy recognises the role of community pharmacy in supporting the management of people with respiratory disease through medicines use reviews and new pharmacy services.

In addition, the introduction of national target groups for MURs in England, under amendments to the NHS Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework, aims to ensure the service is provided to those who will benefit most. One of the target groups is patients with asthma or COPD.2 Both diseases have a major impact in the UK in terms of mortality and morbidity3 and the aim of MURs with these patients is to support them to take their medicines as intended, increase their engagement with their condition and medicines, and promote healthy lifestyles, in particular stopping smoking.

Why Is It Important

Bronchial Asthma & COPD

There are several reasons why the overlap syndrome is important. First, patients with overlapping asthma and COPD are excluded from clinical trials of treatment. This means that for an increasing proportion of older patients with obstructive lung disease, the data on efficacy of treatment may not be relevant. The clearest example of this comes from the studies on the efficacy of inhaled corticosteroids in asthma. These studies typically exclude smokers with asthma because of the difficulty in separating asthma from COPD in smokers with obstructive lung disease. However, up to 30% of people with asthma are smokers, and this means a substantial proportion of the population are excluded from randomised controlled trials. Extrapolation of the efficacy results for corticosteroids in non-smokers to smokers with asthma is flawed. Smokers with asthma have a relative corticosteroid resistance such that corticosteroids are much less efficacious in smokers with asthma than in non-smokers with asthma. This emphasises the need to study drug efficacy in relevant clinical populations, and the necessity to include overlap syndrome in drug evaluation programmes.

When To Get Medical Advice

See a GP if you have persistent symptoms of COPD, particularly if youre over 35 and smoke or used to smoke.

There are several conditions that cause similar symptoms, such as asthmabronchiectasis, anaemia and heart failure. A simple breathing test can help determine if you have COPD.

Find out more about tests for COPD.

While theres currently no cure for COPD, the sooner treatment begins, the less chance there is of severe lung damage.

Find out more about how COPD is treated.

Page last reviewed: 20 September 2019 Next review due: 20 September 2022


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