It’s safe to say that nearly anyone who’s ever had a cold knows what it’s like to not be able to breathe properly. In fact, it’s probably one of the worst parts of being sick. But, when symptoms like this persist, or when they happen when a cold isn’t present, then it’s likely that the root of the issue is a respiratory disease.
Asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) are two of the most common kinds of lung disease. Given that the main symptoms for both of them are coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, it’s often difficult to identify which condition you have. Despite their similarity in symptoms, both Asthma and COPD have some very distinct differences that allow for them to be easily told apart.
Asthma is a lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. While most of the symptoms of Asthma and COPD are the same, the way in which they present themselves is largely different.
Most people who suffer from asthma are diagnosed as children. Though the disease is always there, it may not always show symptoms. Rather, the symptoms of asthma come and go depending on “triggers” such as environmental factors, air quality, physical activity, dust, dander, pet hair, etc.
Though there is no clear reason why people develop asthma, most studies have shown it to be a genetic occurrence. And, last of all, asthma is not generally known as a progressive disorder. Meaning that the disorder may improve over time and some people come to completely overcome it.
COPD is an umbrella term used to diagnose people with chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or a combination of both. COPD symptoms are very much like those of asthma, but they are distinguishably different in a few aspects.
Most of the people diagnosed with COPD are adults, usually 40 or older. This is likely because COPD develops over time as a result of lifestyle factors such as smoking. The symptoms of COPD are milder than those of people with asthma but they are constant, and when patients with COPD are around “triggers” their symptoms become much worse. COPD is also progressive, which means that it will likely become more serious over time. Nonetheless, there are ways to stabilize and manage the disease.
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!