Asthma and COPD Treatment Questions and Answers
Primary Care 360 offers comprehensive treatment for asthma and COPD in Sherwood AR, Hensley AR, and White Hall AR! Call us for more information or schedule an appointment online.
What is the difference between asthma and COPD?
While both asthma and COPD are considered chronic lung conditions and can have similar symptoms, in essence and cause, they are fundamentally different. COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and it is largely a result of extensive damage caused by consistent, lifelong smoking (mainly of cigarettes). While the name suggests that it is one illness, in fact COPD is a group of lung issues and conditions, with the name referring to a general blockage of the lungs caused by irritants (i.e. cigarette smoke). COPD is most common among persistent smokers, and typically onsets after the age of 40. It is a very serious and potentially life threatening disease, and often, your life expectancy is impacted, depending on how serious or far along the condition is. In general, research has shown that it tends to decrease life expectancy.
Asthma, on the other hand, may have no one specific cause, and can be genetic. Similar to allergies, it can onset at a specific time of year, such as in the spring, when things like pollen are more saturated in the atmosphere. Asthma is commonly found in children. Unlike COPD, outcomes with asthma are generally more successful, if treatment is adhered to, and “triggers” are avoided or mitigated. Asthma generally does not indicate a decrease in life expectancy.
What are the stages of COPD?
There are four recognized stages of COPD, and they are categorized by the severity of the disease: early, moderate, severe, and very severe. The measurement tool that many healthcare practitioners use to diagnose or rate COPD is known as the GOLD staging (or grading) system. Where you are as a patient on this scale is determined by various factors, such as your daily symptoms, the frequency with which your COPD has flared up or gotten worse, and the results from a test known as spirometry, which is a specific way to measure your breathing. The type of treatment you receive for your COPD will generally be based on your GOLD staging and the progression of the disease.
Is asthma a comorbidity?
Technically, asthma is not considered a comorbidity, although it can have an impact on your overall health and can cause additional problems. Usually, a comorbidity is considered something that results or stems from one health issue. For example, if your asthma is causing chronic sinus or throat infections because of its severity, that would be considered a comorbidity alongside the asthma itself.
What are the signs of Asthma and COPD?
As outlined above, asthma and COPD are fundamentally different, but they may present similar symptoms. Both conditions can cause respiratory disturbances, including: difficulty breathing, wheezing or struggling for breath, and coughing. Also, both conditions may be exacerbated by certain triggers, such as smoke, pollen, poor air quality, pet dander, and so on.
Because the two conditions can present similar symptoms, it may be difficult to get the right diagnosis at first. That’s why it’s important to know the differences. One of the main points to remember is that COPD is commonly caused by persistent smoking, and this may be a major indicator that you have COPD, and not asthma. Importantly, COPD may also cause:
- A chronic cough (whereas in asthma, the cough may only be during an “attack” or when an irritant is present)
- A blue tint to the lips or fingernail beds, that is persistent and generally does not disappear completely
- A productive cough, with much more mucus and phlegm than normal (such as during a cold)
With COPD, symptoms generally worsen or become more severe over time, whereas with asthma, there tends to be a great improvement or stabilization over time with treatment.
At Primary Care 360 PLLC, we have professionals on our team that can help diagnose and treat both COPD and asthma today. If you’re not sure where to turn or what you’re struggling with, we’re here to help. Contact us today. We serve patients from Hensley AR, White Hall AR, Sherwood AR, Little Rock AR, Jacksonville AR, Maumelle AR, and Conway AR.