When a patient develops a chronic pathology of the respiratory tract, such as bronchial asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (also called COPD), it becomes part of everyday life. The big question is: how can a patient improve his breathing? The first step is to make the diagnosis correctly. Some differences between shortness of breath or coughing attacks in asthma and COPD are subtle. Plus, there is also a complicated situation: a combination of manifestations of bronchial asthma and COPD. It is important to have a detailed examination, an accurate diagnosis and subsequent treatment in order to maximally normalize the state and function of external respiration.
Bronchial asthma: the beginning in youth
Often, the first signs of asthma occur in children or adolescents who have a hereditary predisposition and allergic mood of the body. Not always breathing problems, shortness of breath or persistent dry coughing attacks immediately suggest to the pediatrician about the diagnosis. Obstructive bronchitis, acute respiratory viral infections, laryngitis and other pathologies can be treated for a long time, but usually afterwards bronchial asthma, treatment is prescribed, including with the use of inhaled drugs, whereby breathing is normalized, symptoms stop.
As age increases, bronchial asthma can both progress and regress, it all depends on its causes, severity and treatment methods. If shortness of breath occurs, asthma attacks are not uncommon, asthma is poorly controlled due to only topical medications, more active methods of treatment are needed, including the ingestion of steroid medications. As they grow older, bronchial asthma may be more rarely disturbed, breathing problems are not so severe, the person knows about his triggers and tries to avoid them.
Respiratory problems with asthma attacks
Bronchial asthma includes chronic inflammation and narrowing of the airways due to swelling of the mucous membranes, congestion in the lumen of the bronchi viscous sputum. All this significantly impairs breathing during attacks, when the activity of inflammation increases sharply. Often, asthma has a strong allergic component with additional triggers, such as: a cold, exercise, seasonal weather changes, contact with pollen, home mold, tobacco smoke and dry air.
Most patients with asthma have a concomitant allergy to household or other allergens (fingers, drugs, food). Contact with them provokes respiratory disorders, coughing attacks and the development of shortness of breath. Additional factors in favor of asthmatic respiratory disorders are the presence of relatives with asthma, overweight and smoking, or exposure to passive smoking. Symptoms of attacks include a night cough, progressive shortness of breath, chest tightness, pain or pressure.
COPD: manifestations of the disease in adulthood
The first manifestations of the disease may occur closer to 50 years or older, up to this age specific breathing problems may not be detected. Gradually shortness of breath, or episodes of dry cough, disturbing the general condition. Patients are forced to interrupt their activities, sit down or lean on objects in order to catch or restore breathing, to reduce the severity of shortness of breath or the power of coughing. Examination can reveal emphysema or obstructive bronchitis – these are typical manifestations of the disease. As the progression of respiratory disorders progresses, patients are exposed to disability, they are forced to use inhalers and oxygen therapy, constantly take medications to control the course of diseases. After a few years, it may become difficult for them to leave the house for a long time, walk for a long time and endure physical exertion. However, much depends on the severity of the condition, the activity of the patient himself and drugs that help in controlling the condition.
Dyspnea, bouts of cough in COPD
The term COPD is a common term for manifestations of bronchitis, emphysema, and in some cases chronic asthma. Airflow obstruction is a common symptom of all these conditions. Patients also notice a cough that separates thick mucus or sputum, as well as frequent shortness of breath.Symptoms are constant and progressing as time progresses.
COPD — This is an adult disease that is usually diagnosed in middle or older age. Experts say that smoking is the direct cause of COPD for 85-90% of people with the disease in most countries.
In a minority of cases, the cause of coughing and shortness of breath is a genetic condition called antitrypsin alpha-1 deficiency. For some patients, environmental and occupational exposures become provocateurs of the disease. So, coughing and progressive lung lesions can be provoked by formaldehyde, soot, chemical vapors, coal dust and other substances. In this case, symptoms of COPD can develop even in non-smokers.
How to take COPD for asthma?
In our country, millions of people suffer from both asthma attacks and manifestations of COPD. But it is obvious that COPD is a more ominous disease, because not so many people die of asthma every year, while tens and thousands of people suffer from complications and severe COPD.
In order to make an accurate diagnosis, if there is shortness of breath or other warning signs, it is necessary for any person to test his lung function using spirometry. The test involves breathing into a small apparatus, a spirometer, to determine how much air the patient inhales and exhales, how quickly he does it. Other tests may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis and determine the stage of the disease.
For smokers with COPD, the first thing to do is give up cigarettes. And, of course, it is important for patients with asthma. As for drugs, some treatments for COPD would be inappropriate for asthmatics, and vice versa. All medicines used to treat asthma, with the exception of leukotriene modifiers, are used to treat COPD. But some medications are only allowed for the treatment of COPD.