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Difference Between Asthma and COPD

asthmaAsthma vs COPD

The main difference between asthma and COPD is that asthma is a respiratory tract problem arising due to certain environmental allergies, pollution, pollen dust etc whereas COPD is the chronic version of asthma being untreated. It stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Asthma can be treated at primary stage but COPD is irreversible. It causes permanent lung damage leading to intensive breathing problem. The air tubes become swollen, inflated or squeezed during this type of allergy. Therefore it becomes difficult for a person to breathe in and out, with lot of coughing and wheezing. Both can be aggravated by weather conditions, infections or vigorous exercises.

The other difference is that asthma is prevalent during childhood or adolescence whereas COPD is mainly observed in chain smokers. Asthma is triggered by cold air or allergies whereas COPD is characterized by respiratory tract infections. Asthma can be treated and patients can get immediate relief with normal lung function whereas COPD patients rarely get relief from their problems. Another difference between asthma and COPD is that asthma does not cause lung damage whereas COPD is related to peripheral lung damage leading to chronic diseases like bronchitis and emphysema.

Yet another difference is that asthma symptoms include breathlessness, cough, chest congestion and frequent wheezing whereas COPD does not show such indications but can be determined by respiratory tract infections. Asthma can be cured under proper and timely medication whereas COPD can only be controlled but not fully treated. One can take medicine and reduce smoking to get relief from it. Family history is also somewhat related to such diseases. Asthma may not be completely hereditable but few COPD patients are predicted to have alpha antityrpsin deficiency which is a genetic disorder. People exposed to chemicals in industries, fumes and dust are more prone to such diseases. Coal miners, metal industry employees are the sufferers of COPD.

Asthma can be treated through medication and inhalers but COPD requires strong antibiotics and artificial oxygen supplements. Asthma patients require inhaling of corticosteroid along with some bronchodilators as the first line of treatment whereas COPD treatment is just reverse of it. Bronchodilators are required initially followed by inhalation of corticosteroids only in certain cases. In asthma the inflammation is basically eosinophilic while in COPD it is neutrophilic. This nature of inflammation decides the course of treatment for the patients. Anatomically, only airways are affected in asthma while in COPD the airways as well as parenchyma cells are also affected. Therefore the asthma treatment mainly suppresses the inflammation while COPD treatment reduces the symptoms.


1.Asthma is an upper respiratory tract infection while COPD is a lung infection or a peripheral damage.
2.Asthma can be cured and is reversible but COPD is an acute irreversible form of asthma.
3.Asthma is common in children whereas COPD is more in adults or smokers.
4.Asthma is triggered by environmental pollution and allergies whereas COPD is a respiratory infection caused by exposure to chemicals, fume etc.
5.Asthma can be treated by mild medication while COPD requires strong medication and supplements.

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1 Comment

  1. Asthma is not an upper respiratory infection (point number 1 in your summary), nor is COPD a lung infection. There are other inaccuracies in this article. If you’re looking for information on either of these diseases please do not use this “resource” – they are many better ones available online.

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