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Is Asthma A Form Of Copd

Prevention Of Copd And Asthma

Asthma and COPD – An introduction


COPD is a preventable disease. Although primary prevention hinges on tobacco cessation strategies, secondary prevention of COPD centers on early diagnosis, risk factor modification and treatment. However, early diagnosis of COPD is often delayed. In 2002, the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 7 reported that approximately 24 million adults in the USA have evidence of impaired lung function on spirometry; however, only about 50% of these patients have physician-diagnosed COPD, most of which is moderately advanced disease. At this late stage of disease, only tertiary prevention, aimed at preventing the complications of COPD, is effective. Therefore, primary and secondary prevention strategies need to be improved.

Better prevention of COPD can be achieved through compliance with guidelines. Numerous guidelines exist to assist physicians in early diagnosis, prevention of disease progression and management of COPD, including those of GOLD, the American Thoracic Society, the National Collaborating Center for Chronic Conditions and the Canadian Thoracic Society.


Numerous guidelines are also available to aid physicians and other healthcare professionals to better prevent and manage asthma. Two frequently referenced guidelines are those of the NAEPP and the Global Initiative for Asthma .

Asthma Causes And Symptoms

Asthma is a condition of the narrowing of airways caused by inflammation or excess mucus in the airways. When an asthma attack occurs, the lining of the air passages swells and the muscles surrounding the airways become tight. This reduces the amount of air that can pass through the airway. Typical symptoms include chronic coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness . The nature of cough is dry. Symptoms go away between asthmatic episodes.

What causes asthma?

In April 2015, scientists from Cardiff University announced a breakthrough discovery of the potential root cause of asthma. Researchers found that environmental triggers such as allergens, cigarette smoke and car fumes release chemicals that activate CaSR in airway tissue and drive asthma symptoms like airway twitchiness, inflammation, and narrowing.

The research also points to promising new treatment for asthma. Calcilytics, a class of drugs previously used to treat osteoporosis, can deactivate CaSR and prevent asthma symptoms. The drugs need to be nebulized directly into the lungs for them to work.

When To Talk With A Doctor

There is no set age for a COPD screening. Therefore, you should discuss symptoms with your doctor if you suspect COPD. Your doctor may be aware of your breathing difficulties and diagnose the condition without your prompting, but dont back if you suspect you have this lung condition. Early treatment will prevent the condition from getting worse.

Keep in regular contact with your doctor following a diagnosis of COPD. Reach out if you experience side effects to medications, worsening symptoms, or new symptoms.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease And Asthma

COPD is a combination of lung diseases, such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, that can make it hard to breathe. Its symptoms are similar to asthma.

COPD is usually preventable. Smoking is the main cause of COPD, and smokers are at a greater risk of having both asthma and COPD.

It is important to make a proper diagnosis of asthma and/or COPD because treatment can differ.

COPD is managed with bronchodilators, inhaled corticosteroids and lifestyle management.

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Stage 2: Moderate Copd

At stage 2 of the disease, COPD symptoms become more pronounced and new symptoms may appear. This is the stage that many people start to notice their breathing difficulties and decide to seek help from a doctor.

At this point, lung function has declined further than stage 1, and the signs of COPD are more obvious. At this point, patients might be prescribed longer-lasting medications to deal with chronic symptoms and might be referred to a COPD support program to better learn how to manage their disease.

Inflammatory Mediators Involved In Copd

Chemotactic factors: Lipid mediators: e.g., leukotriene B4 attracts neutrophils and T lymphocytes, Chemokines: e.g., interleukin-8 attracts neutrophils and monocytes. Proinflammatory cytokines: e.g., tumor necrosis factor- , IL-1 , and IL-6 amplify the inflammatory process and may contribute to some of the systemic effects of COPD. Growth factors: e.g., transforming growth factor-ß may induce fibrosis in small airways .

Treatment Of Copd And Asthma


Treatment of COPD encompasses the use of various medications . Non-pharmacological interventions include health education on managing chronic illnesses, pulmonary rehabilitation with focus on physical and dietary measures, patient education, and smoking cessation intervention programs.

Treatment guidelines are shown in Table 3 Gina Box 7. Equal severity of risk are determined by post bronchodilator FEV1 or exacerbation history, supplemented by a validated symptom such as mMRC tool . The role of ICS must be carefully evaluated in patients with COPD. In patients who do not have evidence of Th2 mediated airway inflammation, withdrawal of ICS with persistence of LABA + LAMA may not lead to significant changes in health status, dyspnea or exacerbation .

Long term oxygen therapy improves mortality in COPD patients with respiratory failure but has limited effectiveness in less severe patients. It has also shown positive effects on quality of life, but not on COPD exacerbations.


Asthma Vs Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Symbicort a Medication Used to Prevent Breathing Difficulties COPD and Asthma – Overview

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.

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.

Copd Causes And Symptoms

COPD is a set of progressive respiratory diseases. In the US, emphysema and chronic bronchitis are considered types of COPD. The main cause of COPD is long-term exposure to substances that irritate and damage the lungs. This is usually cigarette smoke, although air pollution, chemical fumes or dust are also known to cause it.

COPD symptoms include decreased airflow, increased inflammation in the lungs, spasms in bronchioles and a morning cough with phlegm. Unlike asthma, the cough is “productive,” i.e., it yields mucus. Again, unlike asthma, symptoms of COPD never disappear — they just progressively worsen.

A further explanation of asthma and COPD is in the video below:

Q: Whats The Difference Between Asthma And Copd

Asthma occurs frequently in people with a family history of the disease and often begins in childhood. Symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness, and these symptoms flare up during an asthma attack. At other times, symptoms may fade or become minimal.

COPD is different and usually strikes later in life. Most people diagnosed with COPD either used to smoke, or still do. Some symptomssuch as chest tightness and coughingare similar to asthma. Other symptoms, such as mucus production, are distinct to COPD. Unlike asthma, symptoms rarely ever fade completely.

Asthma Treatment Options&copd Treatment Options

PSS Tip: Provide patients with report cards and action plans

In many cases, both lung diseases treatments are the same, such as Bronchodilators and inhalable steroids, but there are also a few treatment options that are specific to each condition.People with asthma may be encouraged to stay away from triggers or avoid going outdoors when pollen levels are high. In cases of people with severe asthma, a bronchial thermoplasty may be recommended. The procedure burns off some of the muscles in the airway, reducing their ability to constrict.

On the other hand, people with COPD may be encouraged to alter lifestyle habits, such as quitting smoking, to help prevent any further damage. They may also be prescribed oxygen or pulmonary rehabilitation. In severe cases of COPD, procedures like lung volume reduction surgeries and lung transplants may be suggested.

Both Asthma and COPD are treatable diseases that will require some lifestyle changes. Staying informed on your options and taking care of your health is very important in managing lung diseases. For any further questions about these conditions and their treatments, click the link below!

Airflow Restriction: Reversible Or Permanent

  • Asthma treatment generally returns lung function to normal or near-normal and you should not have many asthma symptoms between asthma exacerbations. Airflow restriction in asthma is generally considered reversible, though some people who have severe asthma develop irreversible damage.
  • Even with COPD treatment, airflow restriction and lung function will likely not return to normal or may only partially improveeven with smoking cessation and bronchodilator usage.

What Is The Difference Between Asthma And Copd

Asthma is a respiratory disease affecting the bronchial tubes, or airways, making them sensitive to allergens or irritants, both of which can bring on an asthma attack. During an asthma attack, it is hard to breathe, and wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness may occur. While COPD can also cause these symptoms, its more likely to experience a consistent cough with phlegm. 

Unlike asthma, COPD is a chronic condition caused by damage to the lungs over time, most often from smoking, and it is irreversible. With asthma, breathing returns to normal after an attack, but COPD symptoms are more regular. Usually, COPD develops in people after age 40 and becomes a chronic disease of lung function while asthma may develop in people of almost any age.

Definition Of Copd And Asthma


According to the American Thoracic Society / European Respiratory Society along with the Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease , chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a preventable and treatable disease with some significant extrapulmonary effects that may contribute to the severity in individual patients. Its pulmonary component is characterized by airflow limitation that is not fully reversible. The airflow limitation is usually progressive and associated with abnormal inflammatory response of the lung to noxious particles or gasses.


Asthma is similarly characterized by airflow obstruction; however, according to the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program and the Global Initiative for Asthma, asthma is additionally typified by variable and recurring symptoms, bronchial hyperresponsiveness and underlying inflammation of the airways.

Causes And Symptoms Of Dyspnea

Advair Diskus a Prescription Medication Used to Treat Asthma and COPD

There are many causes of dyspnea, from everyday activities to respiratory infections or heart-related problems. Causes of dyspnea include:

  • Respiratory tract infections like pneumonia
  • Allergic reaction
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Anxiety, panic attack

How a person describes shortness of breath may vary depending on the cause. Some may describe it as if they are hungry for air and others may indicate they cannot breathe deeply enough. Along with noticing shortness of breath, you should pay close attention to other symptoms that may be occurring simultaneously to help determine if the cause is serious or acute and will only last for a short matter of time.

Triggers And Risk Factors

Asthma is more prone to worsening by triggers than is COPD. Allergens, cold air and exercise trigger asthma. A history of allergies, eczema, and rhinitis, or irritation of the nose’s mucus membranes are the known risk factors.

COPD sufferers are still susceptible to triggers. COPD is exacerbated by environmental pollutants and respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia and influenza. People with asthma are more likely to develop COPD, as are smokers. In fact, COPD is almost always caused by smoking.

Surgical Treatment For Copd

If medical treatment does not alleviate the symptoms of COPD, or symptoms and exacerbations increase, surgery may be an option. However, in order to be a candidate for surgery, there are specific criteria. These include not being a current smoker, participating in a pulmonary rehabilitation program, and being strong enough to receive surgery.

There are two types of surgery performed for COPD, Lung Volume Reduction Surgery and Bullectomy.

  • Lung Volume Reduction Surgery involves removing parts of the lung that are most affected by COPD. Removal of lung tissue seems counterintuitive, but it allows the remaining, healthy parts of the lung function more efficiently.
  • Bullectomy involves the removal of bullae from the lungs. Bullae are large air sacs in the lungs that form when a large number of alveoli are destroyed by COPD. These air sacs interfere with breathing.

If damage to the lungs is too severe or surgery does not alleviate symptoms, a doctor may recommend a lung transplant.

Exacerbation/infection: Changes In Inflammatory Features And Cytokine Profiles

Exacerbations of asthma and COPD are clinically significant events. They are frequently triggered by viral infections of the airways and are associated with a decline in lung function and symptomatic aggravation. During exacerbation, airway inflammation becomes more exaggerated than in the mild and stable disease states, and the inflammation pattern changes. Neutrophil recruitment is a prominent feature of acute exacerbation of chronic asthma, probably owing to respiratory tract infection by viruses., Furthermore, neutrophilic inflammation in the absence of eosinophils is largely present in sudden-onset fatal asthma, and neutrophil numbers are highly elevated in status asthmaticus., Thus, severe and fatal asthma may be mediated by neutrophils, which is quite different from the classical Th2-driven eosinophilic form of the disease. In COPD patients, an allergic profile of inflammation can occur, particularly during exacerbation. Airway eosinophilia is observed in chronic bronchitic patients with exacerbation and is associated with the upregulation of RANTES in the airway epithelium., Recently, Siva et al. demonstrated that the minimization of eosinophilic airway inflammation was associated with a reduction in severe COPD exacerbation. Taken together, these studies indicate that the inflammatory characteristics of asthma and COPD are interchangeable during exacerbation and infection.

Medical Treatments For Copd

[Full text] Optimizing care of your patients with COPD

Treating and preventing exacerbationsor flares of diseaseare critical factors in managing COPD. People with frequent exacerbations , have a more rapid deterioration in lung function, more frequent hospitalizations, and higher mortality. There are many medical options for treating emphysema/COPD.

Smoking Cessation

  • The primary recommendation for preventing and treating COPD is to stop smoking.


  • Bronchodilators relax the muscles of the bronchi, the major air passageway in the lungs. This allows air to get in and out easier. These medications are available in pill or liquid form , or as an aerosol spray .


  • Steroids are powerful anti-inflammatory medications. The only role for systemic steroid therapy in COPD is for 5-10 days during an acute exacerbation. Longer term treatment with systemic steroids in COPD has not been shown to have any benefit and can carry significant risks. The potential side effects of long term systemic steroid use include osteoporosis, diabetes, weight gain, cataracts, muscle weakness, cataracts, and hypertension.

Anti-Infective Agents

  • Antibiotics are frequently used during acute bronchitis to fight bacterial infections. Flu and pneumonia vaccinations are recommended for all patients with COPD. The influenza shot is administered yearly while the pneumonia shot is administered every five years.

Oxygen Therapy


Stage 2 Copd Symptoms

With stage 2 COPD, you will notice symptoms that are more noticeable and more persistent than they were at stage 1. You might also notice some new symptoms, like chronic breathlessness or difficulty coughing up mucous.

Here are the symptoms characteristic of Stage 2 COPD:

  • Worsening airflow restriction
  • Difficulty expelling phlegm from lungs
  • FEV1 Value of 50-79% of normal

Whereas you might have been able to brush off your symptoms at stage 1, at stage 2 they often become too obvious to ignore. It’s important to seek treatment from a medical professional knowledgeable about COPD in order to properly manage your symptoms.

Asthma And Copd Resources


1-866-787-4050 – Toll-free phone number which will connect you to a Certified Respiratory Educator in either English of French. You will typically receive a response within 48 hours. – Information related to triggers, symptoms, treatment, and the Asthma Action Plan. Also gives access to the Asthma Canada Community Forum. – Information related to triggers, symptoms, treatment, and the Asthma Action Plan.  – Short videos demonstrating the proper use of the numerous different types of inhalers – Information related to medicines & treatment.

American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology

AsthmaMD App for Apple and Android devices that allows patients/parents/caregivers to journal symptoms and peak flow readings, track triggers, record and set up reminders for medications, input Actions Plans etc. It was developed in US, so there is some variation in medication names and strengths.


1-866-717-COPD Toll free phone number to speak confidentially to a Certified Respiratory Educator. – Information related to triggers, symptoms, treatment etc.  – Short videos demonstrating the proper use of the numerous different types of inhalers

Are Asthma And Copd Disabilities

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America , the American Disabilities Act and Section 504 state that having a mental or physical impairment that severely limits one or more life activities, including breathing, can be considered a disability.

For people with asthma, this applies even if symptoms only show at certain times, and if the person uses medication, such as an inhaler, to control the problem.

To qualify for social security disability benefits with COPD, a person must have:

  • A forced expiratory volume one that is the minimum for your height or less, from 1.05 to a person who is 5 feet tall to 1.65 to someone who is 6 feet tall.
  • Chronic impairment of gas exchange resulting from a documented COPD.

Those who do not meet these requirements may be able to get other types of help, such as as medical-vocational allowance for people on a low income.

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Inhalers (Asthma Treatment & COPD Treatment) Explained!

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What Are The Different Types Of Copd

The two most common conditions of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Some physicians agree that asthma should be classified as a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, while others do not. A brief description of asthma, is included below:


What is chronic bronchitis?Chronic bronchitis is a long-term inflammation of the bronchi , which results in increased production of mucus, as well as other changes.

These changes may result in breathing problems, frequent infections, cough, and disability.


What is pulmonary emphysema?Emphysema is a chronic lung condition in which alveoli may be:

  • Destroyed
  • Stretched
  • Over-inflated

This can cause a decrease in respiratory function and breathlessness. Damage to the air sacs is irreversible and results in permanent “holes” in the lung tissue.


What is asthma?Asthma is a chronic, inflammatory lung disease involving recurrent breathing problems. The characteristics of asthma include the following:

  • The lining of the airways become swollen and inflamed.
  • The muscles that surround the airways tighten.
  • The production of mucus is increased, leading to mucus plugs.

What Is The Overlap Between Asthma And Copd

A patient who has features of more than one condition exhibits an overlap syndrome. The pathogenesis of overlapping asthma and COPD may be mediated by inflammatory/immune mechanisms and/or structural alterations. The clinical recognition of overlapping asthma and COPD requires an assessment of increased variability of airflow and incompletely reversible airflow obstruction. Numerous studies have documented the presence of partial reversibility after short-term and long-term bronchodilator administration in patients with COPD., Current guidelines emphasize a fixed or irreversible component to airway obstruction in some patients with asthma., Thus, the use of phenotypic characteristics may be useful in differentiating disease characteristics and in understanding similarities in the development and progression of both obstructive airway diseases. A recent study found that 17% to 19% of patients with obstructive airway diseases had more than one condition, or overlap. The overlap of asthma and COPD has been confirmed in older patients by objective testing and is becoming an important clinical consideration.

Symptoms And Signs: 6 Similarities Between Copd Vs Asthma

COPD is caused by long-term exposure to lung irritants that damage lung cells. The main cause of COPD in the United States is cigarette smoke followed by other tobacco smoke . Other possible causes of COPD include chemical or toxic fumes, and inherited factors, like alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, but these causes are far less common than cigarette smoking.

Although cigarette smoke may trigger asthma in some patients, asthma triggers are different from person to person, and most commonly include airborne substances such as pollen, dust, mites, mold spores, pet dander, and/or many other substances. Inflammatory immune reactions to asthma triggers in the airways is the main cause of asthma.

Severe/refractory Asthma: Alveolar Destruction

Among the patients with complex forms of overlapping ...

Destructive changes to the alveolar parenchyma, as in emphysema, are a representative characteristic of COPD. Emphysema is initially centrilobular, but can become panlobular in severe forms of the disease. In asthma, structural changes such as abnormal alveolar attachments and a decrease in elastic fibers can occur in the parenchyma, but these seem to be localized to the peribronchiolar spaces. These changes lead to decreased distensibility and increased collapsibility in asthmatic emphysema, whereas loss of elastic recoil is an important factor in the dynamic collapse of the airway in COPD.


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