Asthma and COPD – How are they related?

What is asthma?

Asthma is the chronic disease which is the infection that is caused in lungs. This disease includes some of the signs like breathing problem, tightness in the chest, cough and severe cold. The nostrils of the nose get blocked and therefore there will be shortness in the breathing. This irritates a person to do their daily activities with concentration. Asthma disease is not so simple to cure but the symptoms that are seen can be controlled by taking the perfect medications. This medication helps to control the symptoms that are seen. Some people need a high dosage for treating of asthma. There nostrils gets swelled and there will be forming of mucous in the lungs.


Asthma was first identified in Egypt, 400BC. This asthma was occurred by drinking a mixture named Kyphi. It was later on named by a scientist named Hippocrates in 450BC. In those days in Egypt used to say that asthma occurs due to over reactions on emotions. This asthma was identified as the most dangerous and life threatening disease in those days. In the 1930’s to 1950’s asthma was identified according to the symptoms and signs that are seen. It was also identified as a psychosomatic illness. Later on to this disease there was a development in the treatment for this disease.

Signs and symptoms:

Asthma has a some of the symptoms like wheezing, cough, tightness in the chest, shortness in the breath. Sputum will be formed in the lungs but there will be problem while taking breath mouth also. When this asthma is being cured the sputum turns into pus like formations due to the increase of the white blood cells called eosinophils. Symptoms gets increased at night or in the early morning and when the person with asthma exposed to cold air or taking any cold items like chilled water, ice cream, citrus fruits. Some people get attacked when they use the asthma triggers like cigarettes or any other. When a person is suffering with this asthma the person may be attacked with other diseases. The other diseases include gastro esophageal disease (GERD), rhinosinusitis and obstructive sleep apnea. There will be occurrence of psychological disorders which include swings in the mood and anxiety in the high level. About 16-52% have more chances of having anxieties and 14-41% have more chances of having swings in their mood.


Asthma may be caused due to many reasons. The causes that mainly include environmental causes and genetic causes.

Environmental causes:

The environmental causes include the air pollution, chemicals from industries, allergies on the skin. The air is having a lot of chemicals that are very harmful and they are the main cause for the occurrence for the cause of asthma. The chemicals that are left into the air from different industries also cause asthma that it sometimes leads to death of the person who is suffering from asthma. Low air quality in the surroundings is one of the other for asthma cause. The allergies that are caused on the skin also causes asthma that is the one of the symptoms for the cause of asthma. The people who work in laboratories have the more chances of being effected with this asthma due to the use of the chemicals formaldehydes, ethanol, and other asthma causing chemicals.

Genetic causes:

Genes are the other main source for the cause of asthma disease. These genes show effects on the future generations. If an ancestor has asthma in a family then the future generation will be affected with this asthma disease. The genetic disorders that are in a family will be continued till the family ends.

Till now we have learnt what is asthma and we will learn

What COPD is?

COPD is a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This is also a lung disease that is a long term disease. This long term disease has no treatment. This disease has a symptom of shortness of breath, cough with sputum, and tightness in the chest. The symptoms can be controlled by taking a treatment using inhalers and other antibiotics. If the treatment is not taken time to time then the disease may get worsen and then there will be no cure to the symptoms also. Slowly the activities that are done daily will be difficult to complete. There are mainly two types of COPD. They are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The chronic bronchitis includes the cough that is seen from long period. The emphysema includes the gas or air that is present in the middle of the tissues. Use and smoking of tobacco is the main cause for COPD. Along with smoking, air pollution and genes also play a small role for the cause of COPD.


The diagnosis of COPD can be done by between the age of 35 to 40 years. Shortness of breath, coughing, sputum formation and other symptoms helps in the diagnosis of the COPD. The instrument that is used to diagnosis disease is spirometry. This instrument was used for children who have the age of 5-10 years of age. The other methods for diagnosis of COPD is x ray and blood test are the methods for diagnosis.


In most of the COPD cases the prevention can be done by quitting smoking, taking less cold items, being precautions while working in industries and laboratories. This can be prevented by taking vaccines for influenza and for other diseases. The vaccine for pneumococci can also be useful for the control of COPD disease. This disease can also be controlled by keeping your surroundings neat and clean so that the air cannot be polluted.

After knowing what is asthma and COPD lets know what are the differences between these two diseases.

Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are both considered as lung diseases. Both the diseases cause the swelling in the nostrils. Asthma is caused by the allergies and other causing items. COPD is of two types. They are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Emphysema causes when the alveoli gets damaged when alveoli is filled with air. Chronic bronchitis is caused when the lungs cannot pump the air to other organs. For some persons asthma and COPD at a time, then the symptoms become more severe to the person. If a person has same symptoms at the same time then the doctors call it as asthma-COPD overlap syndrome.

Who have the more chances of having asthma or COPD?

The people have habit of smoking and people of who work in industries and other laboratories have the most chances of having COPD. This disease will occur at the middle age or the later on.

Asthma occurs when there will be a change in the genes that is from the ancestors of a family. If this disease is present in one of the family member then the other generations will also be effected with this disease. The symptoms for this disease are seen from childhood itself. The other symptoms that are seen when asthma is occurred is allergies, infections in the lungs.


The symptoms that are generally seen in a effected person is:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Wheezing
  • Formation of sputum in the lungs

The main difference between asthma and COPD is that asthma will have wheezing attacks that are seen frequently and COPD have cough with phlegm that is frequent in many people.


To identify the disease your doctor will ask some of the questions like any family health problems, previous health reports. They will also check the nose and throat so that they can see the swelling of the nostrils. The regularly asked questions to a patient by the doctor is:

  • What are the symptoms?
  • Any family history for this disease?
  • Any smokers or second hand smokers in your family?
  • Are you working in any chemical industry or any laboratory?

After asking these questions the doctor will also suggest you to test through an instrument known as spirometry. This instrument is used in order to check what type of disease the person is suffering from. This instrument can check how much of air can you blow through the mouth so that the machine will measure how much of air is blown through the mouth.

Doctor suggest to breath in a bronchodilator if they think that you have asthma. After completion of this bronchodilator test then they will again test through spirometry. If it is said that you asthma then the lungs will work properly after the medicine is taken.

Other tests used to diagnose COPD are:

X-ray: This takes the images of your lungs to check whether your lungs are functioning properly or not.

Blood test for arterial gas: This blood test helps to know the oxygen level in the blood. If COPD is identified then the level of the oxygen will be decreased.

For asthma patients the symptoms may go and come in the form of attacks. But for some people the symptoms will be severe at many cases. The medicines that are used for asthma are of two types. The quick relief medicines will work so fast so that the person gets easy way to breath as the swelling of the nostrils gets decreased. This medicine will also help to decrease the wheezing and other symptoms when an asthma attack is on. Anti-cholinergic helps in the decreasing of mucous in the lungs.

Long term medicines are used in order to get relief for longer period and these also keeps the asthma symptoms away for longer period of time.

  • Corticosteroids are usually used in the form of inhalers to reduce the asthma attack so that the medicine will react on time.
  • The anti-inflammatory drugs like, cromolyn helps to decrease in the swelling of the nostrils.
  • Immune modulators are the medicines that are used for the immune system for the proper functioning. If the functioning of the immune system is proper then the asthma and COPD diseases can be controlled easily.
  • There are mainly two types of allergy shots or sub lingual tablets that are used for immunotherapy that may decrease the causing of allergies to the person.

COPD is the disease that increases its symptoms daily and time to time.

Some of the medications that are used for COPD are:

  • Brondilators helps in the relax of the muscles in the nose.
  • Antibiotics helps in the decrease of the allergies that are present on the skin and other organs.
  • Phosphodiestarase 4 helps in the decrease of the swelling of the nostrils in the nose.
  • Corticosteroids helps in the decrease of the swelling of the nostrils.

There are some non drug treatment in order to control the COPD symptoms:

  • There is a treatment named pulmonary rehabilitation, this includes the exercises and the diet that should be maintained by the person who is suffering with this COPD.
  • Other non drug treatment named supplemental oxygen, the oxygen should be taken when the lungs are not able to send the oxygen to the blood. This can be taken through an oxygen tank or a machine.
  • The other way for controlling symptoms by non drug treatment is surgery. The damaged that are present in the lungs can be removed by surgery so that the other parts may work properly for the better sending of oxygen to the blood.

A person regularly can be attacked to COPD or asthma by smoking only. So the COPD and asthma can be controlled by quitting smoking.

Few other suggestions

  • The person should be away from chemicals that are present in the spray like perfumes, cleaning liquids and so on.
  • Allergy causing dust, pollution, and atmosphere.
  • Smoking is the main cause for asthma and COPD.
  • Eating unhygienic food also sometimes causes asthma or COPD.



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