Asthma vs. COPD: A Complete Guide on Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Asthma vs. COPD: A Complete Guide on Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Asthma accounts for over 9 million doctor visits a year and there were approximately 251 million cases of COPD in the world in 2016. That is almost the population of the United States.

The lung diseases of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are often confused as being the same or similar diseases. But when it comes to comparing asthma vs. COPD, there are some marked differences.

If either of these diseases has touched your family, bookmark this complete guide comparing asthma vs. COPD and start taking control of your health care today.

Comparing Asthma vs COPD

The diseases of asthma vs COPD are very similar, in that they both are characterized by difficulty in breathing. This difficulty is caused by a swelling of the airways that causes that tightness in the chest and problems breathing.

The causes of difficulties in asthma breathing are often stress, allergens, environmental toxins, or even strenuous physical activity. When any of those things interfere with your breathing, you are going to experience an asthma attack.

Then you will need something to help you open up those airways a bit more.

Asthma is also caused by genetics, and you are more likely to get it if one of your parents has it. Asthma can also be caused by having chronic lung infections.

COPD, on the other hand, is characterized by a number of problems such as emphysema and bronchitis. These are actual diseases of the lungs that are chronic and interfere with the body’s ability to move air through your lungs.

For COPD, smoking is the most common cause.

Thus the key difference in asthma vs COPD is that environmental toxins and stress can trigger an asthma attack, but the actual condition of the lungs is what causes COPD.

It is possible to have both diseases at the same time. But at the same time, a key difference when comparing asthma vs COPD is that asthma can be treated and cured while COPD can not.

Symptoms of Asthma and COPD

The symptoms of asthma and COPD are very similar. They include difficulty breathing and are often accompanied by wheezing and coughing.

Asthma symptoms come in attacks and this usually lasts for a few minutes, until treatment such as Advair is administered via inhaler or puffer. COPD, on the other hand, is a chronic problem that lasts throughout the day.

Diagnosing Breathing Problems

It’s very difficult to diagnose a breathing problem quickly. An asthma attack can take on the same symptoms as a number of things, even something like a panic attack.

And sometimes something like one breathing problem, like COPD or a panic attack, can trigger an asthma attack.

So if you are among the millions presenting to the doctor with a breathing problem, your diagnosis will likely be a multi-pronged process.

One of the firsts tests is called spirometry, and this assesses your lung performance. You blow into a machine and this machine will measure how much you can blow out, and how quickly this happens.

Asthma sufferers may also be asked to breathe in some medicine and take this spirometry test again. An asthma patient may also be asked to breathe in a known asthma trigger and then take the test again.

COPD, on the other hand, will involve more complex testing such as bloodwork to assess the amount of gas in the blood. A chest X-ray is often taken for COPD.

Treating Asthma and COPD

When it comes to comparing asthma vs COPD, they are both treated very similarly because they both impact the same organs.

Both diseases are also accompanied by flare-ups or attacks. Every patient suffers differently, however, and the progression of the diseases are markedly different.

Not everyone with asthma suffers daily, but those with COPD definitely do.

Both of these diseases are treated with short-term medicine and long-term medicine.

The long-term medicine is usually a corticosteroid that helps to improve and strengthen the condition of the lungs.

Short-term medications like Symbicort are inhalers that provide fast relief, by relaxing the airways and allowing more air to move through the lungs.

Corticosteroids are usually taken every day for COPD sufferers, while inhalers are usually taken when needed. Some asthma sufferers may take a corticosteroid every day, but it is unlikely unless you are going through a particularly difficult time with frequent attacks.

The Progression of Breathing Disorders

Another issue that impacts the treatment is the progression of the diseases. Asthma is not typically a disease that progresses, and in fact, it can even be outgrown.

The large majority of sufferers of asthma are children. Meanwhile, the large majority of COPD sufferers are adults.

In COPD, the disease gets worse over time. After medication, patients may need to use oxygen on a regular basis, or even undergo surgery.

Surgery for COPD involves removing damaged sections of your lung to ensure the healthy parts work better.

There is no one answer to treating either of these diseases. When comparing treatments with asthma vs COPD you will find them very similar, and usually, involve multiple methods of treatment.

Treat Your Symptoms Today

When comparing asthma vs COPD, it is easy to see why many people get confused over which disease is which but both are very common. Asthma affects hundreds of millions of people across the world have COPD.

Asthma is not usually fatal either, and can even be cured if treatment is fast and used reliably. But it can be fatal and took over 3,000 lives in America in 2017.

COPD, on the other hand, is more fatal and killed over 3 million people in 2015.

Because both asthma and COPD are so common, the costs to health care are significant. It’s estimated that in the United States alone, the yearly cost of asthma is over $980.

The sooner you begin treating your symptoms, the sooner you will be on the road to recovery. Even COPD treated early can slow down its progression and still give you some quality of life.

When comparing asthma vs COPD treatment methods, you will find many of them the same. Do your research and contact reputable online pharmacies to begin saving and treating your symptoms today.