Does it seem like you run out of breath easily? Do you sometimes cough when you catch your breath or have coughing episodes? If you answered yes, you may have a respiratory illness. If you Google your symptoms, the most common results will be asthma and COPD.
Running out of breath after minimal exertion and having coughing episodes are signs of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Both conditions have overlapping symptoms and are easily confused for one another, particularly for adult patients.
A comprehensive evaluation of your symptoms that includes a physical exam and laboratory tests, along with a review of your medical history, are necessary to make a clinical diagnosis of your respiratory illness.
Patients with either asthma or COPD need proper management of their symptoms in order to minimize the severity of their condition and live a normal life. Here are a few key differences between asthma and COPD.
Is It Asthma or COPD?
Yes, asthma and COPD both cause shortness of breath, but they are distinct conditions. COPD usually induces coughing with phlegm, unlike the dry cough and wheezing cough that is characteristic of asthma. COPD symptoms are usually worse in the morning, whereas asthma symptoms are usually worse at night. Asthma may also be allergy-induced, therefore, another factor that physicians look into is whether you have allergies. If you suffer from eczema or allergic rhinitis, your respiratory symptoms may be due to asthma.
Do You Smoke or Have a History of Smoking?
Another factor that physicians consider during evaluation is whether you currently smoke or previously smoked. Smoking is the number one contributor to the development of COPD. If you are a smoker or smoked for years and then stopped, it is likely that your respiratory symptoms are due to COPD. However, that’s not to say that there are no asthmatic smokers. It is also common for smokers to have both asthma and COPD.
Result of Physical Exam and Tests
The treatments for asthma and COPD are different. COPD treatment requires bronchodilators, and these should not be given to people with asthma. Asthma is often treated primarily with corticosteroids and the use of an inhaler. Asthma users also actively avoid triggers that induce asthmatic attacks. As such, an accurate diagnosis is critical in order to successfully manage your symptoms.
Diagnostic tests used to determine which of the two conditions you have include but are not limited to lung function tests, peak expiratory flow, spirometry, and pulse oximetry. Once you have an accurate diagnosis, you will work with a doctor to manage your condition. Asthma and COPD are lifelong conditions, so you will need to continuously work with medical professionals to help maintain a normal lifestyle.
Asthma and COPD Treatment in Dearborn, Michigan
Dr. Sham Juratli is a family medicine physician that specializes in caring for adults with chronic respiratory diseases, including asthma and COPD. We help our patients achieve peak physical health and wellness through our various programs and services.
Find out how we can help you live a normal and healthy life. To request an appointment, call Dr. Juratli’s clinic at (313) 451-8253 or submit a request now. We look forward to serving you.