The most common diseases of the human respiratory system are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. The successful treatment of these diseases and the prognosis depend on the correct diagnosis, using which, you can make the correct medical conclusion about the existing disease.
To recognize COPD and bronchial asthma, doctors use differential diagnostics. Differential diagnosis is a way of recognizing diseases, using which, it is possible to exclude similar diseases, given their distinctive features, and to make the only correct diagnosis.
The main signs of COPD and bronchial asthma
Asthma and COPD share some of the same features, but distinctive features are also present. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a general term that denotes various inflammatory processes that develop in the respiratory organs and arise from the effects of certain adverse factors. Most often, the bronchi are affected, and there is an obstruction of the airways, from which it is impossible to get rid of.
Also, this disease is characterized by the development of respiratory failure and its further progression. The disease is divided into four severity forms: mild, moderate, severe, and extremely severe. Smoking, both passive and active, for a long time can lead to the onset of this disease.
The smoke that is inhaled by a person contributes to irritation of the lung tissue, which further leads to inflammatory processes in it and its subsequent destruction. Inhalation of certain chemical compounds, gases, small solid particles of organic or mineral origin, and so on , also leads to the development of COPD . The main symptoms of the disease include:
- cough for a long period of time with mucus and viscous sputum;
- dyspnea, which worsens after exercise and vigorous activity.
Over the years, the disease progresses and symptoms become more pronounced. Patients suffering from this disease lose weight, their general condition worsens.
In some cases, the disease is accompanied by unexpected exacerbations that lead to a deterioration in general well-being. Symptoms of deterioration can also be mild or very serious.
At the same time, they can lead to death if the necessary measures are not taken in a timely manner!
Selected features of asthma
The medical term “asthma” refers to a chronic disease characterized by inflammation of the bronchi. Due to these inflammatory processes, the sensitivity of the respiratory system to various allergens, for example, pollen, sharp aromas, increases.
In this case, the musculature of the bronchi responds with a sharp convulsive contraction, the mucous membrane swells, and mucus is formed, which makes breathing difficult. The patient develops shortness of breath, which can easily develop into choking.
The disease is classified into types depending on the cause. Allergic, non-allergic and mixed forms of asthma are distinguished. Often, the disease is still of an allergic nature, and seizures occur when the body encounters allergens.
For example: animal hair, some certain cosmetic products and so on. In this case, an asthma attack occurs, which is accompanied by shortness of breath, breathing problems, and before it there is a nasal congestion and a skin rash.
In the non-allergic form, the respiratory organs react to any external stimulus, that is, it can even be cold air, excessive sports load, a stressful situation, and much more. The mixed form of asthma is much less common; the exact causes of its occurrence are not reliably known.
Patients with asthma complain of a painful cough, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing, which can be heard even at a sufficiently large distance from the patient. At the first signs of a beginning attack, the patient needs to take the vertical and breathe exclusively through the mouth.
How is asthma different from COPD?
Since these two diseases are very similar in symptomatology, it is necessary to know the differences between COPD and bronchial asthma in order to make a diagnosis.
There are several factors that can be used to correctly determine the disease:
- Most often, COPD is of a non-allergic nature.
- Asthma can be inherited and is associated with allergies. The body reacts to certain allergens.
- COPD is most often encountered by the elderly, as well as patients who have abused nicotine for a long time. The longer the patient smoked, the more severe the course of the disease. Often, the prognosis for the treatment of this disease is determined by a special formula: the number of cigarettes that the patient smoked during the day is multiplied by the duration of smoking in years. And the greater the result, the worse the prognosis of the results of disease therapy.
- Asthma is common in young and young patients, and the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are typical for people over 45 years of age.
- Important risk factors: in bronchial asthma, this is a hereditary predisposition, and in the case of COPD, tobacco smoking, an unfavorable environmental situation and working conditions (for example, chemical production).
- In asthma, coughing occurs in attacks, appears after contact with substances that cause an allergic reaction. With COPD, symptoms progress gradually over the years.
- Asthma is also characterized by inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nasal stripe, conjunctivitis, atopic eczema syndrome, status asthma, COPD is accompanied by diseases of the cardiovascular system.
- Corticosteroids work great in treating asthma; in COPD, these medications do not bring any relief.
COPD and asthma combination
Some patients have two diseases at the same time. Then it is customary in most cases to talk about bronchial asthma with COPD.
Attacks and exacerbations occur with the combination of these diseases much more often, and it is much more difficult for a specialist to choose the appropriate treatment. The goal of therapeutic interventions is to alleviate symptoms, increase the level of physical activity and quality of life of patients, and slow the progression of the disease.
Inhaled glucocorticosteroids , long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonists, are often prescribed . If necessary, antibacterial drugs are prescribed. Treatment is prescribed individually after a thorough examination of the patient, studying his anamnesis and characteristics of the body.
Differential diagnosis of COPD and asthma
Differential diagnosis is used to make the correct diagnosis to distinguish between COPD and bronchial asthma. To figure out what the patient is sick with – asthma or COPD – doctors use the following methods:
- collection of family history and life history: the doctor asks the patient about genetic predisposition, work activity, bad habits;
- obtaining information about the disease: the doctor asks questions about the duration and intensity of symptoms, the consistency of mucus;
- general examination: listening to the lungs, heart, examination of the skin;
- analysis of sputum, blood;
- test with salbutamol : in this case, the volume of exhaled air without the drug is first measured, and the second measurement takes place a quarter of an hour after its application. If the result obtained improves by less than 15%, then this indicates COPD, since in this case the stenosis that occurs in the bronchi is considered irreversible, and it cannot be eliminated with the help of medications.
Treatment of COPD and bronchial asthma
In the treatment of COPD, mainly patients receive medications for a long time. The main goal of therapy is to stop the process of inflammation, which leads to congestion and leads to a decrease in the lumen of the bronchi.
It is recommended, if necessary, to change the place of residence, change the workplace, quit smoking. Appointed:
- long-acting beta-blockers. Their reception leads to a reflex expansion of the lumen of the bronchi and the removal of spasm of smooth muscles;
- glucocorticosteroids ;
- mucolytics ( bronchosecretolytic drugs).
With the development of a bacterial infection, antibacterial agents are prescribed.
The goal of asthma therapy is to minimize the release of inflammatory mediators. In case of sudden dangerous attacks, the following are prescribed:
- 2-adrenergic agonists;
- atropine-like medicines;
- drugs that promote the expansion of the bronchi;
- mast cell membrane stabilizers;
- glucocorticosteroids and others.
Respiratory system disease prevention
To avoid the occurrence of COPD and bronchial asthma, it is strongly recommended:
- exclude harmful factors at the workplace (if necessary, change the type of activity) and change your place of residence in a poor environmental situation;
- lead a healthy lifestyle: get rid of addictions, play sports, etc.;
- with asthma, it is recommended to avoid contact with substances that contribute to the appearance of an allergic reaction;
- do wet cleaning in the room every day, both at work and in the house / apartment;
- it is recommended to gradually increase physical activity;
- to be treated in time for colds and infectious diseases of the respiratory system;
- monitor your health: visit sanatoriums, physiotherapy procedures, undergo medical examinations.