Knowing the difference between Asthma and COPD


In appearance both Asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) are conditions that are very similar that it is a common mistake to confuse the two of them. The similar symptoms that both diseases have make it difficult at time to tell the difference. For example, both tend to give chronic coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. According to experts, millions of patients with COPD are currently unaware of their situation because they are either not diagnosed or are mistakenly diagnosed as asthmatic or suffering from bronchitis. In order to be able to tell the difference between the conditions it is necessary to better appreciate the symptoms. An early diagnosis of COPD is vital to upholding lung function. However, if a person is or was a smoker, the symptoms in question could potentially lead to confusion and an erroneous diagnose of the illness, therefore ending up as a mistaken diagnosis.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a condition that describes the progressive respiratory disease that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Over time, it can be normally characterized by decreased airflow and a abnormal increased inflammation. Even though, they are not the same, up to a 40% of patients who are diagnosed with COPD also have Asthma. Largely it is considered a big risk factor for developing the disease, especially when the patients become older, the likelihood of a duel-diagnosis will increase.

How can both conditions be differentiated? By checking 4 different aspects of the affected patient, could help determine and establish whether if it is COPD or Asthma.

1.      First it is important to know that age in this sort of cases is a factor. Airway obstruction is the center for both diseases. The main key here to help to differentiate the two of them is that the time that Asthma is diagnosed is during childhood. While COPD’s symptoms happen most of the time in adults over the age of 40 with a history of smoking.

2.      A second way to distinguish between both conditions is how they respond to treatment. Both COPD and Asthma have a good response to treatment, including smoking cessation and medication, however, Lung function is only fully reversible in asthma patients.

3.      Both diseases have a main difference that can lead to a correct diagnosis, and that is learning to understand the triggers for both conditions. Asthma is triggered by exposure to allergens, cold air and exercise as COPD is triggered by respiratory tract infections like pneumonia and influenza, as well as exposure to certain environmental pollutants.

4.      The symptoms for both conditions are almost alike. At first glance they are virtually the same. Rapid spams of the bronchioles and shortness of breath is a common symptom on both diseases. A Spirometry is the easiest way to diagnose COPD as it will determine if its asthma or COPD.

The best way to treat Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is to get an early diagnose. If you are an adult and have a history of smoking, consult with your doctor, as in this disease, time is of the essence. 

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