Asthma vs COPD 6 Ways to Tell the Difference
06
October

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /


Asthma vs COPD: 6 Ways to Tell the Difference 1. Age of Onset According to Healthline.com, the age a person
is when the disease presents itself is “often the distinguishing feature between COPD and
asthma,” as they are quite different. With asthma, the source says people are commonly
diagnosed as children. While the onset of COPD tends to be in “adults
over the age of 40 who are current or former smokers.” 2. Causes The exact cause of asthma is still unknown
to medical professionals, although they suspect that it may be due to both genetic and environmental
factors. These environmental factors can include exposure
to triggers such as pollen, dust, mold, and smoke. With COPD, however, EverydayHealth.com says
the cause “is much more clear-cut.” Smoking is far and away the primary reason
people develop the disease, and is “attributed to about 85 to 90 percent of all COPD deaths.” The source adds that exposure to air pollution,
certain chemicals, and secondhand smoke can also be responsible. As can a genetic defect known as alpha-1 antitrypsin
deficiency (AAT), but only in approximately 2 to 3 percent of diagnoses. 3. Triggers As mentioned earlier, asthma is often triggered
by exposure to certain substances, like pollen, dust, mold, and smoke. The Lung Institute adds that cold air and
physical exercise may also worsen symptoms. With COPD, the source says symptoms are often
triggered by “respiratory tract infections like pneumonia and influenza.” In some cases, however, MedicalNewsToday.com
says “People with COPD may have symptoms when they are active or at rest, without a
known trigger.” 4. Symptoms While the symptoms of asthma and COPD—such
as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath—may seem very similar, there are subtle differences. For instance, a chronic cough in people with
COPD tends to produce a lot more mucus and phlegm than those with asthma would experience. Additionally, in those with asthma MedicineNet.com
says “breathing can return to normal between attacks,” but with COPD it typically does
not. COPD symptoms also tend to worsen over time,
which is less common with asthma. 5. Treatment Although the medications—such as bronchodilators
and inhaled steroids—used to treat asthma and COPD are similar, the treatments and therapies
prescribed for each is different. EverydayHealth.com says those with asthma
“are encouraged to avoid their personal triggers, like keeping pets out of their home
or avoiding the outdoors when triggers like tree pollen are high.” They may also opt for a procedure called bronchial
thermoplasty, where muscles in the airway are burned off to reduce constriction. While the source says people with COPD are
also told to avoid triggers, it is more important that they stop smoking (if they haven’t
already) in order to “help prevent further damage to the lungs.” In addition to this, as well as any prescribed
medications, therapies and treatments for people with COPD include oxygen and pulmonary
rehabilitation, or lung volume reduction surgeries and lung transplants in serious cases. 6. Outlook While neither asthma nor COPD are considered
curable conditions, Healthline.com says their outlooks are quite different. “Asthma,” the source says, “tends to
be more easily controlled on a daily basis,” through proper diagnosis and treatment. COPD, however, is a progressive condition,
meaning the symptoms typically get worse over time. But quitting smoking, reducing exposure to
triggers, and adhering to a physician-prescribed treatment plan can help to reduce symptoms
and slow the disease’s progression.


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