COPD and Asthma

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a condition that can look a lot like your asthma. Both conditions affect your airways and lungs and happen as a result of airway inflammation. The symptoms of COPD resemble asthma (wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath).

Asthma can have many different triggers. COPD, on the other hand, has one: irritants. Tobacco smoke is the leading cause of COPD. People with COPD have airway obstruction that does not respond well to medication. They experience some relief, but their obstruction progressively worsens.

The Asthma and COPD Overlap

It is possible to have symptoms of both conditions. When this happens, you have what is called asthma-COPD overlap syndrome (ACOS). Having ACOS 1 means that you may have trouble telling the difference between both conditions. You may also have greater or more severe symptoms of one or both conditions and a harder time managing your conditions.

Causes of the Overlap

Several factors contribute to ACOS. These factors include your exposure to irritants, the severity of your asthma, and the degree of your airway obstruction. Your odds of overlap are higher if you have severe asthma or severe COPD. You cannot get rid of either condition, but you can take one or more of these steps to improve your health conditions:

  • Stop smoking.
  • Combine your treatments for both conditions.
  • Use oxygen therapy. 
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
  • Create an asthma action plan.