4 years

I just been recently diagnosed with asthma

Morning doctor, i just been recently diagnosed with asthma in GP clinic. and that maybe because of i’m a smoker since 30 years. yesterday i went for a check up and doctor asked me few questions to rule out other disease. i heard the doctor mention regarding obstructive pulmonary disease chronic. why is he comparing those two diseases? does that mean i have two diseases?

Hi there! That’s a very good question. Let me start by explaining what is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a lung disease caused by chronic interference with lung airflow that impairs breathing, and is not fully reversible.

Asthma on the other hand is respiratory condition marked by spasms/constriction of the bronchi, due to inflamed and narrowed airways in the lungs. Asthma is fully reversible through treatment.

These two diseases are always compared because of their similarities especially their presenting symptoms. Which is why both diseases are always considered. The shared symptoms are cough, wheezing (a whistling or squeaking sound in the chest) and shortness of breath.

There are differences between asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is caused by prolonged lung irritant (smoking is the most common irritant). Asthma on the other hand is caused by an immune inflammatory reaction form the body.

The onset of COPD is usually at an older age and asthma is usually a disease of childhood. It has to be said that it is common that asthma can also be diagnosed in adults. Asthma triggers are different from person to person and most commonly include airborne substances such as pollen, dust, mites, mold spores, pet dander, and/or many other substances. In COPD, it doesn’t fully get better between attacks whereas in asthma there is usually complete recovery between attacks.

In COPD, patients’ symptoms gradually become worse. COPD produces more mucus (phlegm) compared to asthma. The treatment differ between the 2 diseases as well. To differentiate these diseases, a couple of investigations can be done (spirometry). Asthma and COPD can also both be diagnosed at the same time. It is known as Asthma COPD Overlap Syndrome.

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