Health and Fitness

Asthma & COPD: Definition, Similarities & Medication

Asthma is a respiratory disease that causes airflow obstruction. Asthma causes the interior walls of the airways, or bronchial tubes, to swell and become irritated. It induces wheezing, coughing and makes breathing difficult.  When the symptoms of asthma worsen, an asthma attack occurs. Attacks can occur suddenly and range in severity from mild to life-threatening.

In some circumstances, swelling in the airways might block oxygen from reaching the lungs. It prevents oxygen from entering the bloodstream or reaching vital organs. As a result, people experiencing severe symptoms require immediate medical attention.

COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a long-term inflammatory lung condition that results in blocked airflow from the lungs. Coughing, wheezing, mucus production, and breathing difficulties are all signs of COPD. It is usually caused by long-term exposure to irritant gases or particulate matter, most commonly cigarette smoke.

When you inhale, the airways transport air to the air sacs. Like a little balloon, the air sacs fill up with air. When you exhale, the air sacs deflate, and the air escapes. COPD patients are at a higher risk of getting heart disease, lung cancer, and a range of other illnesses.

Differences and similarities between COPD and Asthma

Asthma and COPD can both present with the following symptoms:

  • Exercise intolerance
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic cough
  • Wheezing
  • Wheezing Anxiety with increased heart rate may occur in both diseases.

Even so, the frequency and predominance of symptoms difference between asthma and COPD. COPD patients are more likely to have a morning cough, persistent symptoms, and increased sputum production. If you have asthma, you are more likely to have occurrences of symptoms during the day and/or at night.

The other difference between asthma and COPD is that asthma symptoms are intermittent, whereas COPD symptoms are chronic and progressive. Asthma symptoms are more likely to appear after being exposed to specific triggers, whereas COPD symptoms appear more frequently.

There are several other differences between COPD and asthma.

Characteristics of Asthma

  • Symptoms are more likely to occur in spurts and/or at night.
  • Asthmatics are more likely to be non-smokers.
  • Allergens, cold air, and exercise are common triggers.
  • Eczema and allergic rhinitis are two comorbid conditions.
  • Most airflow restrictions are reversible.
  • In most cases, inhaled steroids are used to treat the condition.
  • Usually diagnosed in childhood or adolescence.

Characteristics of COPD

  • Morning cough increased sputum, and persistent symptoms are all possible.
  • The majority of people with COPD have smoked or have been exposed to a significant amount of second-hand smoke.
  • Exacerbations are commonly caused by pneumonia and flu, as well as pollutants.
  • Coronary heart disease and osteoporosis are examples of comorbid conditions.
  • The restriction of airflow is either permanent or only partially reversible.
  • Typically, treatment entails pulmonary rehabilitation.
  • Adulthood is the most common time for a diagnosis.

Causes

Asthma and COPD have different causes.

Asthma

Experts are baffled as to why some people develop asthma while others do not. It could be the result of a combination of environmental and genetic factors. It is well understood that certain substances (allergens) can cause allergies. These differ from one person to the next. R, respiratory infections, physical activity, cold air, pollen, dust mites, Mold, pet hair, smoke, some drugs such as aspirin, stress, sulphites, beta-blockers, and preservatives added to various foods and beverages, and gastroesophageal reflux disease is some typical asthma triggers (GERD).

COPD

In the world today, smoking is the most common cause of COPD. It is induced in underdeveloped countries by exposure to fumes from the combustion of fuel for cooking and heating.

According to the Mayo Clinic, COPD affects 20 to 30 percent of people who smoke daily. Tobacco use and smoke damage the lungs, making the bronchial tubes and air sacs lose their natural elastic properties and over-expand, trapping air in the lungs when you exhale.

About 1% of patients with COPD develop the condition as a result of a genetic abnormality that produces low amounts of a specific protein alpha-1-antitrypsin. This protein aids in the protection of the lungs. Lung damage is easily caused by a lack of it, not only in long-term smokers but also in new-borns and kids who have never smoked. Chronic bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchi that lasts for a long time. It is fairly common among smokers. Individuals with chronic bronchitis are more prone to lung infections.

The prognosis and life expectancy of someone with COPD vs asthma

COPD prognosis ranges from fair to poor and is determined by how quickly COPD progresses over time. According to research, people with COPD have a shorter lifespan in general.

Most people with asthma have a fair to excellent prognosis, depending on how well they can identify what triggers their attacks and how well they respond to medication.

Treatment

Asthma and COPD are treated differently since the cause of inflammation are different. The aims of treatment for asthma and COPD are also markedly different.

Asthma Treatment Aims: 

If you have asthma, your doctor will prescribe medications to reduce or suppress inflammation.

COPD Treatment Aims: 

COPD treatment aims to reduce symptoms and prevent lung damage progression, while also reducing exacerbations and improving quality of life.

Medications

Inhaled Steroids

  • Inhaled steroids, like Flovent, are beneficial in both asthma and COPD since the medicine operates directly in the lung. Inhaled steroids, on the other hand, are used differently in asthma and COPD.
  • Inhaled steroids are frequently the first daily medicine administered in asthma, usually when the condition has progressed from intermittent to moderate persistent asthma. In the treatment of severe COPD with multiple exacerbations, inhaled steroids are added.
  • Spiriva is used early in COPD because it has been linked to improvements in lung function, symptoms associated, and standard of living, as well as a reduction in COPD exacerbations and hospitalizations.  Short-acting anticholinergics, like Atrovent, are used to treat acute asthma exacerbations, and long-acting anticholinergic Spiriva is used as an asthma controller medicine.  All the medications are easily available on PocketPills.

Asthma-COPD Overlap

Asthma and COPD can co-occur in some people. If you experience symptoms of both conditions, your doctor may refer to this as asthma-COPD overlap (ACO).

It is possible to have both asthma and COPD symptoms. ACO is not a distinct disease. The name refers to the combination of symptoms.

It is unknown what causes ACO. Long-term COPD may alter the way your lung’s function and increase your risk of developing the disease. It could also begin if you smoke while suffering from asthma. It could also happen for reasons no one knows about.

It is essential to detect and treat ACO because it can be more severe than either disease alone. There is no cure, but you and your doctor can team up to help you breathe and live more comfortably.

ACOS Diagnosis

ACOS indicates that you have both asthma and COPD symptoms. Asthma, COPD, or ACOS may be diagnosed by your doctor.

ACOS is a relatively new concept. There are no specific guidelines for diagnosing ACOS. When compared to people who only have COPD, ACOS typically includes the following three characteristics:

  • Eosinophils, a type of white blood cell, cause bronchial and systemic inflammation.
  • more of a reaction to bronchodilators inhaled
  • increased airflow reversibility

Your doctor will undertake a check-up and evaluate your clinical history to arrive at a diagnosis. Imaging tests like X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs may be required. A non – invasive test called spirometry, also known as a pulmonary function test, will most likely be required to assess your lung function.

What is the ACOS treatment?

You will still require asthma treatment because asthma causes inflammation. It could include:

  • Corticosteroids inhaled
  • Avoidance of allergens
  • Medication for allergies
  • Long-acting bronchodilators
  • Bronchodilators that act quickly
  • Flu, pneumonia, and whooping cough vaccines are examples of preventive vaccines.

To retain lung function, you’ll also need to manage COPD symptoms.

It could include:

  • Avoiding the use of tobacco and other polluting substances
  • Nutrition education and healthy eating
  • Disease management education
  • Respiratory rehabilitation
  • Combinations of long-acting bronchodilators, combination bronchodilators, or inhaled corticosteroids
  • Flu, pneumonia, and whooping cough vaccines are examples of preventive vaccines.

Oxygen treatment

Surgical removal of damaged lung tissue or air sacs (bullae)

ACOS treatment will be individualized to your symptoms and preferences. ACOS necessitates careful management and therapy adherence.

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Special Tips to manage ACOS 

Maintain a nutritious diet. Eating healthily can help you maintain your strength and enhance your health.

Consult with a dietician or nutritionist. Consult your doctor to determine if you have nutritional needs and whether you should take dietary supplements.

Obtain a vaccination. Extra respiratory disease can be deadly. Consult your doctor about vaccinations for influenza, pneumonia, and whooping cough to reduce your risk of contracting these and other illnesses.

Avoid smoking and other pollutants that can irritate your lungs and exacerbate your symptoms.

Exercise. Physical activity is essential for good health. Consult your doctor to determine which activities are appropriate for you. Inquire with your doctor about pulmonary rehabilitation and other exercise programs for people suffering from lung disease.

Seek assistance. Reaching out for help, whether from friends and family, psychosocial support, or a group session, is essential. Also, make certain that those closest to you are aware of your condition and what to do in an emergency.

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