New Delhi, Roohi Parvez. COPD vs Asthma: Bronchial Asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) are obstructive pulmonary diseases affecting millions of people all over the world. Asthma is a serious global health problem, affecting an estimated 30 million people. COPD is one of the leading causes of chronic mortality and mortality and one of the major public health problems worldwide. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the world and is projected to increase in prevalence and mortality.
What is the cause of COPD?
Dr. Harish Chafale, Senior Consultant, Pulmonology and Critical Care, Global Hospitals, Mumbai, says that although asthma and COPD have many similarities, they also have many differences. They are two different diseases with differences in aetiology, symptoms, types of airway inflammation, swollen cells, mediators, consequences of inflammation, response to therapy, course. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways. Chronic inflammation is associated with hyperactivity of the airways causing wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and persistent cough, especially at night or early in the morning.
However, the natural history of COPD is variable and not all people go through the same complications. COPD is usually a progressive disease, especially if the patient continues to be exposed to harmful agents. It is characterized by chronic airflow limitation and a range of pathological changes in the lung, some characterized by significant extra-pulmonary effects and significant co-morbidities that can make the disease severe in the individual patient.
Smoking is the most common cause of COPD, although in many countries, air pollution from the burning of wood and other biomass fuels also causes COPD. The factors that promote the risk of asthma can be divided into two parts. Some of the factors that trigger asthma exacerbation and those that trigger asthma symptoms do both. The first includes host factors (which are mainly genetic) and the second is usually environmental factors.
Can COPD be kept under control?
Dr Sanket Jain, Consultant Chest Physician – Pulmonologist at Masina Hospital, Mumbai, said that COPD is a common, preventable and treatable disease characterized by persistent respiratory symptoms and air flow limitation. It is caused by an airway and/or alveolar abnormality, usually caused by exposure to harmful particles or gases and influenced by host factors, including abnormal lung development. After ischemic heart disease, COPD is the second leading cause of disease burden in India. The symptoms of COPD and asthma are almost the same. It is very difficult to medically diagnose the difference between COPD and asthma. The availability of spirometry has made it possible to differentiate between COPD and asthma. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it was observed that there was an increase in the intensity of COPD. COPD patients can survive well by taking their medical management such as a prescribed inhaler, a good protein diet, smoking cessation, pneumococcal and flu vaccines as advised by the doctor. The spiro ball and breathing exercises are very helpful in improving the quality of life. COPD is a preventable and treatable disease. With the availability of modern management and prevention, COPD can be easily controlled.