How Are They Diagnosed
Diagnosing COPD or asthma starts with a comprehensive evaluation of your history. A provider will take into account factors such as:
- Your symptoms and what triggers them
- Whether you smoke
- The health of your family members
- Your exposure to substances at home or the workplace
Your doctor will also perform a physical exam, which includes:
- Checking your vital signs, including your oxygen level
- Listening to your lungs with a stethoscope to detect wheezing or other signs of lung disease
- Looking for physical signs of other potential causes of symptoms
However, the history and physical exam are often not enough to diagnose you with COPD or asthma. Your provider will probably want to do a few more tests before they make a diagnosis.
The most useful to test to figure out if you have asthma or COPD is called spirometry. This test measures how much air you can breathe in and out of your lungs and how fast you can do it. You may be asked to do the test before and after taking an inhaled medication to see how your lungs respond. Your results are then compared to normal ranges based on your age, height, and sex.
Chest X-ray or computed tomography scans are also common tests if you have trouble breathing. While the tests can show signs of pneumonia and other lung problems, they cant determine for certain whether you have COPD or asthma.;
What Are The Symptoms Of Copd And Asthma
In the early stages of COPD, you may have no symptoms at all. Eventually, however, people with COPD tend to develop the following symptoms:
- Trouble breathing when moving around. As COPD progresses, you may become short of breath when doing very little.
- Ongoing cough that produces sputum
- Wheezing, or a whistling sound during breathing
- Chest tightness
People with COPD can also suffer from exacerbations, which is a sudden worsening of your symptoms over a few hours or days.
Asthma symptoms are usually worse at night or in the early morning. Symptoms are usually brought on by a trigger and include:
- Sudden trouble breathing;
- Dry cough
Most people with mild or moderate asthma dont have symptoms every day. This is the main difference with COPD. The symptoms will come on suddenly, and can be triggered by things like:
- Pollen, dust, mold, pets, and cockroaches
- Viral respiratory infections
- Air pollution
- Cold air
Asthma can also cause exacerbations, or an asthma attack. This is when your symptoms suddenly flare up much worse than usual.;
Understanding The Difference Between Bronchiectasis And Copd
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.
You May Like: Can You Have Asthma In The Military
Q: How Can I Improve My Lung Health On My Own
No matter which lung condition you have, working closely with your healthcare team can control its effects on your everyday life. But there are other steps you can take as well. For instance, if you smoke, its never too late to quit. Make sure that youre current with all vaccinations, especially the pneumococcal and annual flu vaccine. These viruses can be very harmful to people with a lung disease. In addition, consider asking your provider about pulmonary rehabilitation if you have consistent breathing problems. This type of rehabilitation focuses on managing symptoms, exercising, and eating a nutritious diet.;
Are Copd And Asthma The Same Thing
These conditions do have some things in common. But theyre not the same thing.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a long-term lung condition that makes it hard to breathe. COPD can damage the airways in your lungs as well as the tiny round air sacs in your lung tissue. COPD is actually not a single disease, but rather a term used for chronic lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.;
Most people with COPD are older adults who have smoked for a long time. Exposure to air pollution or chemical fumes and dusts can also cause COPD.
Similar to COPD, asthma is a chronic lung condition that makes it hard to breathe. Asthma causes inflammation in the airways of your lungs. People with asthmas airways are often sensitive to particles in the air that cause irritation or allergic reactions. People of all ages can have asthma, but it is particularly common in children and younger adults
Also Check: Relieve Asthma Without Inhaler
Airway Inflammation In Asthma
The airway inflammation in asthma is persistent even though symptoms are episodic, and the relationship between the severity of asthma and the intensity of inflammation is not clearly established .The inflammation affects all airways including in most patients the upper respiratory tract and nose but its physiological effects are most pronounced in medium sized bronchi . The pattern of inflammation in the airways appears to be similar in all clinical form of asthma, whether allergic, non-allergic, or aspirin-induced and at all ages .
How Is Emphysema Diagnosed
The diagnosis of emphysema cannot be made solely on symptoms. Several tests are used to make the diagnosis. One simple test is to tap on your chest and listen with a stethoscope for a hollow sound. This means that air is being trapped in your lungs. Other tests include:
You might also talk to your doctor about whether testing for alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is appropriate for you.
Recommended Reading: How Long Does It Take For Asthma To Go Away
Emphysema Vs Copd: Similarities And Differences
In some cases, there are a few differences between COPD and emphysema. Depending on the form of COPD a person has, symptoms may vary a little.
For example, people with chronic bronchitis might have symptoms that differ slightly from people that have emphysema. Both conditions are classified as COPD, but symptoms may vary a little.
But there are more similarities than differences between emphysema and COPD. For instance, the cause is often the same. Typically, COPD and emphysema occur due to damage to the airways, which makes breathing progressively more difficult.
Copd Is The Same As Adult
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is comprised primarily of three related conditions: 1) chronic bronchitis, 2) chronic asthma, and 3) emphysema. With each of these three conditions there is a chronic obstruction of air flow through the airways and out of the lungs. The obstruction generally is permanent and may progress over time.Patients with COPD are often classified by the symptoms they are experiencing at the time of an increase of the symptoms of the disease. For example, if a patient is experiencing primarily shortness of breath, they may be referred to as a patient with emphysema. If the patient is primarily experiencing a cough and mucus production, he or she is referred to as having chronic bronchitis. Actually, it is preferable to refer to these patients as having COPD, since they can experience a variety of lung symptoms.
Don’t Miss: Can You Develop Asthma When Pregnant
Which Is Worse: Copd Or Asthma
COPD is worse than asthma. With a well-designed treatment plan, asthma symptoms can be controlled sufficiently to return lung function to normal, or very close to normal, so the condition is generally considered reversible. Though COPD symptoms can be well-managed with various treatments, the respiratory disease is irreversible, so any damage impairing lung function that has occurred cannot be restored.
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 .
You May Like: Why Is My Asthma So Bad Right Now
It’s Easy To Get The Care You Need
See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.
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.
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.
Read Also: How Do You Know If You Have Asthma
Inflammatory Cells In Asthmatic Airways
Mast cells -activated mucosal mast cells release bronchoconstrictor mediatorshistamine, cysteinyl leukotriens, prostaglandin D2. They are activated by allergens through IgE receptors or by osmotic stimuli . Eosinophils are in increased number in airways, release basic proteins that may damage epithelial cells, and have a role in releasing a growth factors and airway remodeling , T lymphocytes are in increased number and release specific cytokines, including IL-4, IL-5, IL-9, IL-13 that orchestrate eosinophilic inflammation and IgE production by B lymphocytes . There may also be an increase in inKT cells which release large amounts of T helper: Th1 and Th2 cytokines . Dendritic cells,Macrophages are in increased number, and release inflammatory mediators and cytokines that amplify the inflammatory response . Nutrophils are in increased number in airways and sputum of patients with severe asthma and in smoking asthmatics, but the role of these cells is uncertain and their increase may even be due to steroid therapy .
How Can I Prevent Copd
With asthma, find out your triggers and do what you can to avoid them. Be sure to keep your inhaler accessible as you never know when an attack will hit and manage your symptoms accordingly.
Smoking is often the cause of COPD; the best thing you can do is divorce yourself from the habit and start making health a bigger priority. Other triggers to avoid are second-hand smoke, dust, and pollutants. These may cause further damage to your lungs and increase the speed of COPD symptoms.
Asthma and COPD are separate diseases that can occupy the same space. Having asthma doesnt mean you will also contract COPD, but always exercise caution with your lungs. You only get one set of lungs, so take care of them as best you can
Recommended Reading: Can An Asthma Attack Kill You
Copd Is Almost Always Caused By ____________
In the United States, tobacco use, especially smoking, is a key factor in the development and progression of COPD, but asthma, exposure to air pollutants in the home and workplace, genetic factors, and respiratory infections also play a role in the development of COPD. In less developed parts of the world, indoor air quality is thought to play a larger role in the development and progression of COPD than it does in the United States.In rare cases, COPD may be caused by alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is an inherited disorder that can cause lung disease in adults and liver disease in adults and children.
Airway Remodelling And The Overlap Syndrome
There is also increased airway wall remodelling in the overlap syndrome, with increased bronchial wall thickening on high resolution CT . Increased thickness of the airway wall is an important feature leading to airway obstruction in most airway diseases. In asthma, this is due to inflammation, subepithelial fibrosis and increased thickness of the smooth muscle. There is also increased thickness of the airway wall in COPD, which is not as prominent as in asthma, but involves the same structures of the epithelium, reticular basement membrane, airway smooth muscle and mucous glands. There is also evidence of remodelling, fibrosis and inflammation in these structures. The increased smooth muscle reported in COPD is seen in some but not all studies. Increased thickness of the airway epithelium and goblet cell hyperplasia are features of the remodelled airway in both asthma and COPD. Similarly, increased airway wall fibrosis is reported in both asthma and COPD. Thus when considering the pathological changes within the airways that are associated with asthma and COPD, there is similarity in terms of structures that are remodelled, but differences in the degree of changes in specific structures.
Recommended Reading: What Occurs During An Asthma Attack
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.
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.
Don’t Miss: Is Asthma Considered A Pulmonary Disease
The Differences Between Copd And Asthma
Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are both respiratory diseases involving chronic inflammation that leads to airflow obstruction. While they share similar symptoms, their causes and treatments differ. In some cases, asthma and COPD may overlap in what is termed asthma-COPD overlap syndrome, or ACOS.
However, the frequency and predominating symptoms in asthma and COPD are different. With COPD, you are more likely to experience a morning cough, increased amounts of sputum, and persistent symptoms. If you have asthma, you are more likely to experience episodic symptoms during and/or at night.
Another difference between asthma and COPD is the intermittent symptoms seen with asthma versus the chronic, progressive symptoms seen in COPD. Asthma symptoms are likely to occur after exposure to specific triggers, whereas COPD symptoms occur more regularly.