OPEN AIRWAYS

Helping Bermuda Breathe!

 

MAKE A

DONATION

ASTHMA vs. C.O.P.D.

Distinguishing COPD from asthma, especially chronic asthmatics who have smoked, can provide a challenge. Patient history can help to differentiate between these two obstructive airways diseases.

HISTORY

COPD

ASTHMA

Heavy smoker or ex-smoker?

yes

maybe

Was a chesty child?

maybe

often

Cough and sputum?

for many years

often recent

Breathlessness started?

gradually

sudden attacks

Breathlessness varies?

little

a lot

Attacks of breathlessness at rest?

uncommon

common

Cough in the morning?

common

uncommon

What’s the difference between asthma and COPD?

Asthma usually starts at a younger age, and people are more likely to have a history of allergic conditions such as hayfever or eczema. When breathing tests such as a spirometry test are done, the airways may show some changes, but these are mostly or completely reversible back to normal with medical treatment.

 

COPD gets worse over time, and symptoms don’t usually appear until over the age of 50. People with COPD are likely to have smoked for a long time, and the changes in the airways shown by a spirometry test do not respond much to medication. Some people have a mixture of both conditions.

 

Note: It’s important to understand that some people do get asthma for the first time when they are over 50 years old, so you should always have spirometry test done to help with diagnosis.