Is it Asthma or COPD? Or Is it Both?

asthma COPD differences

Have you ever wondered what the differences are between COPD and asthma?  Ultimately, only a medical professional will be able to tell.  On the surface, many of the symptoms seem very much the same.

Similarities of Asthma and COPD

  • Asthma and COPD both cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
  • Both of these conditions are caused by inflammation (or swelling) of the airways.
  • Exposure to viruses, pollution, and tobacco smoke will all make asthma and COPD worse.
  • Both conditions are diagnosed with spirometry.

Differences between Asthma and COPD

  •  A cough that produces phlegm is common with COPD, but not asthma.
  • Patients with asthma are more likely to have allergies like hay fever and eczema.
  • Airway obstruction can be reversed with asthma treatment; in patients with COPD, the obstruction cannot be reversed.
  • Asthma is generally diagnosed in childhood, while COPD almost always affects those over 40.

Though both illnesses affect the lungs, the long-term affects are quite different.  Allergist Brian A. Smart, MD., member of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, puts it simply.  “Asthma is more of a lung-inflammation illness, while COPD is more of a lung-destruction illness.”

The Asthma – COPD Link

According to the American Lung Association, young people who deal with severe and persistent asthma are 32 times as likely to develop COPD later in life.  For many, the two illnesses go hand in hand.  In the Philadelphia area, many people deal with both asthma and COPD.

You know that if you deal with both of these conditions, medication regimens can become quite complex.  It is especially important, then, that you have open communication with your doctor and pharmacist.  Customers of Brian’s Pharmacies have peace of mind, knowing our staff is alert to the complexities of taking both COPD and asthma medications.  Remember, we’re here for you if you have any questions or concerns about the drugs you are prescribed.

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