Both asthma and COPD are respiratory diseases, but they are different! Here’s how

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While many people are aware of the signs of asthma, not many people know that its symptoms can sometimes overlap with those of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Both of them are challenging conditions, especially since a virus has crippled the health of many. In addition to this, a rise in pollution increases the risk of respiratory disorders by triggering several of their symptoms. However, patients with asthma, rhinitis, allergies or COPD can save themselves with proper management.

What is the difference between COPD and asthma?

It’s difficult to differentiate between COPD and Asthma. Some patients have symptoms of both asthma and COPD, wherein factors like age, cause, and triggers can help differentiate between the two conditions. Asthma occurs more in smokers who develop breathlessness in their third or fourth decade of life and have had allergic symptoms since childhood. While people with asthma are diagnosed very early in life, COPD and its symptoms usually occur in adults over the age of 40 with a history of smoking.

Certain allergens could trigger asthma symptoms. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What is the cause of asthma?

The exact cause of asthma is relatively unknown. According to research, the most believable reasons for a person developing asthma can be attributed to environmental and genetic factors. Pollen, dust mites, mold, pet hair, respiratory infections, physical activity, cold air, smoke, some medications (like beta blockers and aspirin), stress, sulfites, and preservatives added to some foods and beverages, and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are some popular triggers related to asthma.

What causes COPD?

On the other hand, one of the known causes of COPD is smoking and exposure to toxic gasses that emanate from burning fuel for cooking and heating. Since smoke from both these scenarios can irritate the lungs, it can harm the bronchial tubes and air sacs. This will cause these structures to lose their natural elasticity and over-expand, which causes the air to be trapped in the lungs when a person exhales. In some rare cases, COPD can also be caused due to a genetic disorder.

In this condition, low levels of a protein called alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT) are produced. Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) is a protein made mainly by the liver, which then moves into the individual’s bloodstream. As this protein protects the lungs and other vital organs from the detrimental effects of irritants and infections, a lack of the same can cause COPD in an individual.

Tips to deal with asthma and COPD

Since air pollution directly impacts the respiratory system, keeping the following tips in mind, especially if you have asthma and COPD, can go a long way.

  • Stay away from the smoke and particulates emitted from fireworks.
  • Wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth if the outdoor smoke is too much.
  • Say no to smoking and stay away from second-hand smoke as well.
  • Drink enough fluids and stay hydrated.
  • Take medicines as prescribed and keep emergency medication, nebulization, and other such things handy.
  • While everyone likes to indulge in sweets and delicious foods, pay equal attention to a good diet that focuses on loads of fruits and vegetables and improves protein intake to help boost immunity.
  • Invest in a good quality air purifier so that the indoor air quality remains good, clean, and healthy.
    Manage your COPD woes with the right care and caution. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Asthma and COPD triggers can be high during the festive season, but they can also be controlled by taking the necessary precautions throughout the year. To prevent these from causing unwanted emergencies, keep your inhalers and medicines handy, although if symptoms become severe, seek medical assistance urgently.

In conclusion, highlighting the need to take precautions is critical to ensure fewer emergency cases related to asthma and COPD. Steer clear of anything that irritates the lungs, such as spray chemicals, dust, pollen, mold, perfumes, and smoke, and stay stress-free.

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