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How Can You Tell The Difference Between Copd And Asthma

Q: How Is Acos Treated

Asthma vs COPD: Whats the difference?

Your provider can begin treatment if you have COPD or asthma alone. But if you have ACOS, you may want to see a pulmonologista specialist in lung health. People with ACOS often experience more severe symptoms than those with a single lung disease, but working with a specialist can help you feel better. Treatment for ACOS usually includes medicine.

Is It Asthma Or Copd

A spirometry test, or pulmonary function test, can measure how well the lungs work. Individuals blow into the device as hard and as long as they can, providing information about how much air the lungs take in and expel. Many doctors use spirometry tests to measure airway problems associated with COPD and asthma.

Factors doctors look at when weighing a diagnosis with COPD or asthma include:

  • A history of smoking: Most people with COPD are or were smokers.
  • Age: Asthma often appears in childhood. If breathing difficulties occur after the age of 40, doctors are more likely to diagnose COPD.
  • Symptoms: Coughing in the morning, heavy phlegm, and progressively getting worse suggest COPD. Recurring attacks, particularly if accompanied by allergies or eczema, suggest asthma.
  • Family history: Asthma is more likely to run in families.
  • Symptom triggers: People with COPD may have symptoms when they are active or at rest, without a known trigger. Asthma attacks may be caused by physical activity or something in the environment.
  • Onset of symptoms: COPD tends to get worse over time, while asthma attacks come on suddenly.
  • Responsiveness to treatment: Asthma tends to respond better to quick acting rescue inhalers than COPD does.

Diagnosis with either condition doesnt rule out developing another breathing disorder, so patients should report all symptoms to their doctor.

Is Asthma Or Copd Worse

Asthma and COPD are both dangerous in their own way.

A severe asthma attack can cause your airways to narrow so much that you are no longer able to breathe on your own. This happens when your short-acting inhaler is not effective enough. Youll need immediate treatment at the hospital. Without prompt treatment, a severe asthma attack can cause death.

COPD has more long-term consequences and is always progressive and is the leading cause of death in the U.S. But you can reduce exacerbations with treatment. Even though you can’t reverse the damage, you can slow the effects of damage and reduce the risk of death by quitting smoking and using oxygen therapy .

Very rarely, you may need lung transplantation, but this is a long process and a huge commitment for you and your family, so it is important that you discuss it with a pulmonologist at an appropriate transplant center.

Its important to know the early warning signs of COPD, so you can help slow the progression of the disease:

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How Is Asthma Treated And Managed

Asthma can usually be managed with the help of asthma medicines, according to the American Lung Association. Some are meant to work quickly to relax your airways and help you breathe easier during a flare-up , while other treatments reduce the swelling and inflammation in your airways to prevent symptoms, also called maintenance medications. There are also combination medications that include two types of medication.

Vaccinations against respiratory infections, like pneumonia, are key for both asthma and COPD.

While medications and vaccinations are essential for asthma treatment, you have the starring role. Avoiding triggers is a huge part of any asthma management plan. For someone with asthma, you want to avoid irritants and allergens that can trigger inflammation that sets off your asthma symptoms and leads to an asthma attack, says Dr. Ogden.

This can vary from person to person, but could include making some hard choices like kicking Fluffy out of bed if youre allergic to pet dander.

Smoking Is The Primary Cause Of Copd In First World Countries

COPD vs. Emphysema: Is There a Difference?

It has been largely established that tobacco smoking is the main cause for COPD in the developed world. In developing nations, however, fumes and smoke that arise from fuel used for cooking and heating are the main culprits. According to the Mayo Clinic, between 20% and 30% percent of smokers are on track to develop COPD. Smoke irritates the lungs and airways. In people who smoke regularly, bronchial tubes and air sacs can lose elasticity, over-expand, and leave air trapped inside as they exhale.

While smoking and age are the main markers of the difference between asthma and COPD, approximately 1% of people who develop COPD do so because of a genetic condition known as alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency. AAt is a protein that plays a crucial role in protecting the lungs. When the body doesnt produce enough, lung damage can occur. When AAt deficiency is the cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, it can affect babies and children with the deficiency as well as adults who are smokers.

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So What Is The Main Difference Between Asthma And Copd

Theres, unfortunately, no way to prevent asthma, but thats not the case with COPD. For 85 to 90% of people with COPD, cigarette smoking is the culprit.

COPD is very much linked to a history of smoking, whereas asthma is not, Neeta Ogden, M.D., an asthma specialist and immunologist in New York City, and a member of the Medical Scientific Council of Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, tells SELF. People with asthma will often say they have never touched a cigarette and avoid smoke as much as possible.

With that said, long-term exposure to other lung irritants like chemical fumes and air pollution also play a role in COPD, according to the American Lung Association.

Another big difference: Chronic bronchitis, a type of COPD, classically presents with a chronic cough that lasts for months, which isnt always the case with asthma, Dr. Ogden says. If youre still not sure which one youre dealing with, ask yourself this: Do you experience wheezing and chest tightness more at night? Or do you also deal with allergies, like hay fever, or eczema? Then asthma is likely your answer, per National Jewish Health.

Difference Between Asthma And Bronchitis

About 12 million people in the United States suffer from bronchitis every year. It is characterized by irritation of the mucous membranes lining the airways. Although there are similarities between asthma and bronchitis, they really arent the same disease and therefore require different treatments.

During an asthma attack you will often find that in addition to having difficulty breathing, people will also wheeze. Many sufferers have also reported tightness in the chest. In the case of bronchitis, there is also normally a hacking cough. It can be with or without phlegm. Chronic bronchitis involves a persistent phlegm-producing cough.

Chronic bronchitis can be diagnosed with a pulmonary function test. This will enable doctors to check airflow in the lungs. A chest x-ray can also be taken. Unfortunately, diagnosing asthma is more complex. It involves testing to check airway obstruction and a patients ability to exhale under various conditions.

While asthma treatment focuses on limiting exposure to triggers and controlling inflammation, bronchitis treatment includes a number of different strategies. The flu vaccine, anti-inflammation treatments, antibiotics, and bronchodilators to open airways could be applied. There are also treatments that focus on helping to clear excess mucus.

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The Treatment Difference Between Asthma And Copd

Both COPD and asthma are long-term medical conditions. And, as with COPD, asthma is manageable with the right therapy and/or treatment. But the difference between asthma and COPD requires approaches that are specific to each disease.

Among the treatments for asthma is to educate the patient on how to recognize asthmatic triggers and how to take precautions that help to avoid them. Developing a good awareness of personal breathing patterns in order to be aware of how well your daily medication is working and to quickly recognize the onset of an asthma attack is also important.

Diagnosing Asthma And Copd

Whats the difference between asthma, COPD?

With all the similarities between asthma and COPD symptoms, it can be challenging to diagnose each disease correctly without mistaking one for the other. Asthma is the most common alternative diagnosis for COPD. However, it is important to correctly identify which condition a patient is dealing with so they can receive the proper treatment.

When a patient has symptoms that pertain to both asthma and COPD, there are a few key factors that differentiate the two. To develop an accurate diagnosis, medical professionals will ask patients dealing with breathing issues specific questions about their symptoms, such as what time of day they feel the worst. They will also inquire about the patient’s medical, family and smoking histories and exposure to irritants, as well as gases or vapors.

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Contact Post Acute Medical Today

If you have asthma or COPD, learn more about the cardiopulmonary health services available to you by contacting Post Acute Medical today. At Post Acute Medical, we concentrate on quality care, patient satisfaction and long-term positive outcomes. Providing high-quality care to our patients is our top priority.

Find out how Post Acute Medical can help you manage your COPD or asthma by locating the facility nearest you and calling for more information.

How Asthma And Copd Are Similar

There are a number of ways that asthma and COPD are similar. This is what results in most of the confusion between the two different conditions. For example:1

  • Both are chronic respiratory conditions with no known cure.
  • Both have airways that are inflamed. leading to swelling, narrowing, and blockage of the air passages.
  • In both, the airways can overreact to certain allergens or other environmental conditions/substances.
  • Both diseases can have the symptoms of: cough, shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness.
  • Both asthma and COPD are often treated with the same medications.

Read Also: What Is Asthma Triggered By

How Are Asthma And Copd Diagnosed

COPD and asthma can have a lot of overlap when it comes to making a diagnosis, says Dr. Ogden. A specialist will make the diagnosis based on your clinical history, including symptoms and pulmonary function testing.

Breathing tests to see how well your lungs function include:

  • A spirometry test: Youll take a deep breath in . Then youll blow all that air into the tubing attached to a small machine called a spirometer as forcefully as you can. This measures how much air you blow out and how fast you can do so, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Youll also perform a range of other inhalation and exhalation techniques so your doctor can assess your lung function.
  • Peak expiratory flow test: While spirometry tests can tell you a range of different things about your lung function, this test only measures how fast you can blow out air using maximum effort. It can be done during spirometry or by breathing into a separate device, called a peak flow meter. This is a small, plastic hand-held device that you can use at home or on the go to help you determine if you are having an asthma attack.
  • Fractional exhaled nitric oxide test: This one might sound like a science experiment gone wrong, but it simply measures how much inflammation you have in your lungs.

How Are They Treated

COPD Exacerbations, Bronchitis and Pneumonia: What


Theres no permanent cure for COPD. If you have COPD, there are two things you can do that can help you live longer:

  • Quit smoking or dont start smoking.

  • If your oxygen level is already low at rest, use long-term supplemental oxygen with a portable tank.

Being referred to and enrolling in pulmonary rehabilitation helps a great deal with symptoms and confidence when you have COPD. It involves a structured program of exercise, education, and peer support.

Medications for COPD can help you feel better and reduce how often you have exacerbations. The medications you take are based on how serious your symptoms are and how often you have them. Common medications include:

If you have a COPD exacerbation, treatment is more aggressive than day-to-day management and includes:

  • Supplemental oxygen

  • Oral or intravenous antibiotics

  • Assistance with breathing from a ventilator mask and machine called BiPAP

Rarely, lung surgery may be used for severe COPD. Surgery can include removing severely damaged parts of your lung or in extreme cases, a lung transplant.


Childhood asthma sometimes goes away by itself. But asthma that starts in adulthood usually does not go away.

Avoiding triggers is a good general strategy to limit your asthma symptoms. Although smoking may not be the primary cause of asthma in most people, smoking makes asthma symptoms worse. So people with asthma should quit smoking or not start.

Maintenance medications for adults include:

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The Cause Of Asthma Is Often Unknown

A primary difference between asthma and COPD is what causes one or the other. Even to medical experts, the reason why some people develop asthma while others dont is largely a mystery. There may be a connection between environmental and genetic factors. We do know that exposure to particular types of allergens can be a trigger. They differ from person to person, but common triggers that set off asthma include:

Staging And Treatment Of Asthma

The goals of long-term management of asthma should include the following: 1) achievement and maintenance of control of symptoms 2) prevention of asthma exacerbations 3) maintenance of pulmonary function as close to normal levels as possible 4) maintenance of normal activity levels, including exercise 5) avoidance of adverse effects from asthma medications 6) prevention of the development of irreversible airflow limitation and 7) prevention of asthma mortality.

The recommended GINA treatment algorithm, together with the clinical features and staging of severity of asthma, are available on the GINA website 1. It is important to note that the forced expiratory volume in one second levels are before treatment, i.e. in the unmedicated state.

Until the advent of anti-inflammatory drugs, asthma was treated on an as-needed basis and treated as an acute disease rather than a chronic disease. With the recognition that asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease, there has been a gradual move towards treating it more aggressively and earlier in the hope that this may change the natural history of asthma and prevent some of the remodelling that sometimes occurs.

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Q& a: When Youre Diagnosed With Both Asthma And Copd

When youre diagnosed with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , it can be difficult to breathe. But did you know that about 15% to 55% of adults with one of these lung diseases actually qualify for a dual diagnosis?

This dual diagnosis is called asthma-COPD overlap syndrome . People at risk for ACOS are typically those with asthma who smoke, but healthcare providers also see cases in those who dont use tobacco. The right diagnosis is important with lung conditions, and education is key to understanding treatment options. To learn more about ACOS, read the answers to some common questions below.

Knowing When To See A Professional

Asthma and COPD differences / treatment (How to tell the difference)

Clearly, there are numerous ways to effectively manage asthma and COPD, which means the prognosis for both diseases can be hopeful as long as each condition is caught early. While neither asthma nor COPD are considered curable, asthma is typically easier to control on a daily basis by avoiding triggers and taking the proper medication. As a progressive disease, COPD may get worse over time, but sticking with a physician-prescribed treatment plan can slow the disease’s progression and lessen symptoms.

The first step in successfully managing both conditions is to see a medical professional. Whether you suffer from difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing or chest tightness or simply have a family history of the disease, you should consider seeking professional help. After consulting with a medical specialist, you will have a better idea of your condition and available treatment options.

It is especially important to receive medical attention specifically intended for your individual condition. Look for a rehabilitation center like Post Acute Medical that offers cardiopulmonary health services explicitly created to benefit asthma and COPD patients. At Post Acute Medical, there are precise treatment plans and therapies for a wide range of cardiopulmonary conditions, including COPD and asthma.

  • Methods to maximize oxygen intake.
  • Disease pathology.
  • Infection control.
  • Respiratory care.

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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.

Is It Copd Asthma Or Pneumonia How Can You Tell

by Health Professional

How does your doctor go about figuring out what is wrong with you and arrive at the correct diagnosis? Let’s begin with a story, something that happened to me not long ago…

“Well, it’s one of three things,” said the doctor. It could be caused by a medication, it could be Adie Syndrome, which could go away anytime or you might have it forever”or it could be a brain aneurysm.”_

I lost it, broke down and cried, right there in front of the doctor and the nurse. The doc patted me on the shoulder and handed me a tissue. “We’ll figure it out. Stay right there, we’ll try the eye drops and see if that helps.”

I’d just returned from a wonderful vacation, my first time ever on a cruise. As we were heading home, my left pupil, the middle, black part of my eye became huge. That’s what brought me in to see the opthomologist that morning.

They say it’s not necessarily what your doctor says – but what you hear – that you remember and dwell upon. I worked with very sick patients for over 20 years, at the bedside when doctors gave patients and their families a diagnosis and prognosis. I was surprised when quite often the family had a totally different take on the conversation than what the doc had intended. But, I was the patient now – on the other side of the bed – and forgetting everything I’d heard but the third possibility, the worst one. I was a wreck. This was confusing. What was going on with my eye, and what would happen to me?

COPD vs. Asthma

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