Question:What is the difference between asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)?
Answer: So, we've talked about asthma being a disease of airways obstruction where people can get the air in and because the airways are a little bit twitchy and narrow, it then becomes more difficult to get the air out, and it leads to wheezing. In that particular situation, most of the problem in most individuals is reversible with medications.
Now COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and you notice the obstruction word is there and also in my definition of asthma. The main difference in COPD is that the key problem there is primarily destruction of the very peripheral parts of the lung, most commonly nowadays in people who smoke.
That we believe, at least at the present time, is an irreversible process in the periphery of the lungs and it leads to a completely different kind of problem that we treat sometimes with similar medicines to asthma, but it's usually a more severe and progressive disease. People with COPD are more likely eventually to end up on home oxygen, for example.
So as it stands right now, we don't think that asthma leads to COPD, nor do we think that COPD leads to asthma, but keep in mind that we see people with asthma who smoke and so sometimes we see both conditions in the same person simultaneously.