Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Asthma vs. COPD, similar symptoms -- Different causes and treatment


Fifty percent of older adults may suffer from both

Coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath are symptoms asthma sufferers are used to. They are also the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). For sufferers, as well as physicians, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two conditions.

According to a presentation at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting, as many as 50 percent of older adults with obstructive airway disease have overlapping characteristics of asthma and COPD. And this percentage increases as people get older.

"Based on symptoms alone, it can be difficult to diagnose COPD vs. asthma. The pathway to a diagnosis of COPD or asthma - smoking vs. a long-term persistence of asthma - can be quite different," said allergist William Busse, MD, ACAAI fellow and presenter.

"In every patient, but in older patients in particular, we need to take a thorough history and perform a physical examination, as well as measurements of lung functions. In patients with COPD and asthma, the changes in lung function may be severe, and it is not often readily apparent, which is the predominant, underlying condition - asthma or COPD. Treatment will differ depending on diagnosis."

Lung function changes in asthma are due to airway inflammation, and treatment is directed at reducing inflammation with corticosteroids - largely, inhaled corticosteroids. But the changes in lung function associated with COPD are caused by cigarette smoking and, except with an exacerbation, are not particularly responsive to corticosteroids.

"The primary treatment in COPD is bronchodilators, including long-acting beta agonists. They help relax muscles around the airways in the lungs, allowing air to flow more freely," said allergist Michael Foggs, MD, ACAAI president. "They should not be given alone to people with asthma.

In COPD, but not asthma, inhaled corticosteroids have been associated with an increased risk for pneumonia and in some cases, features of both asthma and COPD exist. For these patients a combination of inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta agonists is usually best."

Some treatments for COPD and asthma are similar. Bronchodilators are used for both conditions. Other treatments tend to be more condition-specific. People with asthma are encouraged to avoid their personal triggers, like keeping pets out of the home or avoiding the outdoors when allergen concentrations are high. While people with COPD are also encouraged to avoid triggers, the emphasis in this condition is to stop smoking. Similarly, if a patient has asthma, smoking makes the underlying disease worse and reduces the response to inhaled corticosteroids.

Allergists who treat these conditions recognize that each patient, and their symptoms, must be treated according to their unique set of circumstances. People need to tell their allergists all their symptoms and complete medical history in order to receive the correct diagnosis and appropriately tailored therapy.

For more information about asthma and COPD, to locate an allergist in your area, visit The ACAAI Annual Meeting is being held Nov. 6-10 at the Georgia World Congress Convention Center in Atlanta. For more news and research being presented at the meeting, follow the conversation on Twitter #ACAAI. View the latest news online at ACAAI Annual Meeting Press Kit.


The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 6,000 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit Join us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Hollis Heavenrich-Jones | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: ACAAI Allergy Asthma COPD Immunology conditions function lung function obstructive symptoms

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Inflammation Triggers Unsustainable Immune Response to Chronic Viral Infection
24.10.2016 | Universität Basel

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

New method increases energy density in lithium batteries

24.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

International team discovers novel Alzheimer's disease risk gene among Icelanders

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

New bacteria groups, and stunning diversity, discovered underground

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>