Similarities Between Asthma and COPD

COPD and Asthma are two different diseases. But, they also have many similarities.

The similarities between asthma and COPD

Both are chronic lung diseases. Both require those diagnosed with them to see doctors on a regular basis. They both may present with episodes that require unscheduled doctor visits, trips to the emergency room, or admissions to the hospital. They can both be managed by medicine prescribed by doctors.

Research and finding a cure for asthma and COPD

Neither has a cure, but both are treatable. As researchers continue their quest to learn more about these two diseases they continue to discover better and better treatment options. Researchers continue the quests to find cures for both diseases, or at least ways to prevent people from developing them in the future.

Triggers for asthma and COPD

They both present with airway inflammation that becomes chronic over time. This inflammation may be worsened when exposed to triggers leading to asthma attacks or COPD flare-ups. Triggers are similar for both diseases and include things like allergens, cigarette smoke, strong smells, strong emotions, etc. A top trigger for both diseases is respiratory infections, such as those that cause the common cold and influenza.

Worsening inflammation

Worsening inflammation causes airway obstructions in both diseases. These obstructions cause airflow limitation. This is what creates that feeling of shortness of breath. Worsening inflammation also irritates smooth muscles wrapped around airways. These muscles spasm and constrict to squeeze airways. This causes airway obstructions during asthma attacks and COPD flare-ups. Asthmatic and COPD airways both have extra goblet cells. These are cells that make mucus. So they may both produce excessive mucus that further obstructs airways.

Symptoms of asthma and COPD

Common symptoms associated with both diseases are shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing, and coughing. Another potential common symptom of both diseases is mucus production. This may be increased during asthma attacks or flare-ups to further obstruct airways.

Diagnosis of asthma versus COPD

Both diseases may be diagnosed with a test called a pulmonary function test (PFT). With asthma it shows airflow limitation that is reversible. With COPD it shows airflow limitation that is only partially or not at all reversible.

Treatment of asthma and COPD

Both diseases are treated with inhalers and nebulizers. These allow you to inhale respiratory medicine, applying it to airways exactly where it’s needed. The most common respiratory medicine used for both diseases are bronchodilators. These medicines relax smooth muscles wrapped around airways. They open airways and makes breathing easier.

Another common respiratory medicine for both diseases are inhaled corticosteroids (ICS). These reduce the underlying airway inflammation to keep airways open long-term. Many of the inhalers used are combination inhalers. These are inhalers that contain both a bronchodilator and an ICS. Any medicine approved for COPD may also be used for asthma and vice versa.

Management of asthma and COPD

Both diseases are heterogeneous. This means that they present differently from one person to the next. Doctors have access to both asthma and COPD guidelines. These guidelines can help them decide how best to manage individual asthma and COPD patients. A common management strategy for both involves working with doctors to create management or action plans. These plans help patients decide how best to manage their disease on a daily basis. They also help patients decide what actions to take when they experience symptoms. Both diseases can be controlled. Asthma control means symptoms are prevented so asthmatics can live a normal life between attacks. When symptoms occur they are mild and easy to reverse. COPD control means symptoms are allayed or minimized to allow patients to breathe easy and live quality lives.

Asthma and COPD are both chronic diseases

So, there are many similarities between asthma and COPD. Another similarity is that they are both chronic diseases. And when you have a chronic disease you learn to cope. People with controlled asthma can live relatively normal lives despite their diagnosis. People living with COPD can live quality lives for many years despite their diagnosis.

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