DONATE NOW

HOME

US COPD Coalition Calendar

Is It Asthma or COPD? Know the Difference

By Gary Fitzgerald – Allery & Asthma Network

People with chronic cough, wheeze and shortness of breath may wonder if their symptoms are asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The difference between the two diseases is not always clear.

May is Asthma Awareness Month, and Allergy & Asthma Network joins with the US COPD Coalition in raising awareness of these life-threatening lung diseases. More than 24 million people live with asthma, while approximately 16 million are diagnosed with COPD, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Woman are more than two times as likely to get COPD as men.

Apart from prevalence data, what are the differences between the two diseases?

Asthma is usually diagnosed early in life. Symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath

Asthma flares are often triggered by allergies (pollen, mold, pet dander, dust mites) and irritants (air pollution, chemicals in cleaning products). Respiratory infections like the cold or flu are also common triggers.

Asthma results in approximately 3,600 deaths per year, or 1 in 10 people with the disease.

COPD tends to occur in people after the age of 40. The two diseases that make up COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Symptoms are the same as asthma but may also involve:

  • Increased mucus or phlegm with cough
  • Frequent colds
  • Nasal and throat infections
  • Fatigue
  • Blue lips or fingernails – a symptom you may not have enough oxygen in your blood

COPD is considered more serious than asthma and tends to get worse over time. Approximately 120,000 people die of COPD each year, making it the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to CDC. It can lead to permanent lung damage.

Many people develop COPD after years of exposure to something that irritates the lungs. For most, it’s cigarette smoking. For others, it could be long-term exposure to air pollution or fumes in the workplace.

Can asthma lead to COPD? Not necessarily. A person whose lungs are damaged due to poorly controlled asthma and exposure to irritants such as tobacco smoke is at increased risk of COPD.

Given the similarity of symptoms between the two diseases, it’s perhaps not surprising the COPD is sometimes misdiagnosed as asthma. It’s also possible for people to have both diseases at the same time – this is called Asthma-COPD Overlap, or ACO. People with ACO tend to have frequent exacerbations and a more rapid decline in lung function.

Treatments for these conditions are similar – but with one notable difference.

Asthma, COPD and ACO patients are prescribed quick-relief albuterol inhalers to treat symptoms that arise suddenly. Each group uses inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), long-acting beta-agonists (LABA), long-acting muscarinic antagonists (LAMA), or a combination medication of the three to control airway inflammation daily.

In recent years, biologics have emerged as a revolutionary treatment for asthma. These medications target specific cells and pathways that cause airway inflammation, stopping symptoms before they can start.

Biologics are not available for COPD, although recent research shows promise in finding a precision biomarker that could target the disease. Doctors may recommend oxygen therapy for severe cases of asthma and COPD.

Pulmonary rehab has also been shown to benefit severe asthma and COPD patients as well. Pulmonary rehab is a whole-body approach to treatment that involves patient education, exercise, nutrition, and more. The program can shorten hospital stays and increase participation in daily activities.

Asthma and COPD can change over time, which means medication needs may change, too. Patients should work closely with their doctor to evaluate which medications work best at any given point in time.

Lifestyle changes to avoid triggers are also key to successfully managing both conditions. For starters, it’s critical that asthma and COPD patients not smoke. It’s the single most important thing to do to slow the rate of lung function decline, regardless of disease severity. If stopping is too hard, talk with a doctor about smoking cessation programs.

It’s also important to get annual pneumonia and flu vaccinations to ward off viruses. CDC recommends both vaccines for asthma and COPD patients.

The COVID-19 pandemic provided both good and bad news for people with asthma and COPD.

First, the good news: asthma and COPD patients are not at an increased risk for contracting COVID-19. And now the bad news: patients with moderate-to-severe asthma and COPD patients are at risk for severe COVID-19 if they do contract the virus.

A recent study revealed that 83% of people with COPD say that COVID-19 has served as a wake-up call to realize their disease puts them at risk. And 98% say they want to be as healthy as they can to fight off COVID-19.

Asthma and COPD patients can take steps to protect themselves. Practicing the three Ws – wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance from other people. If you don’t feel you can wear a mask due to severe asthma and COPD, it may be best to stay home and avoid public places. Ask family and friends to run errands for you. If you must go out, avoid large crowds, and practice social distancing.

Allergy & Asthma Network has placed an urgent priority on addressing asthma, COPD and COVID-19 disparities. These conditions disproportionately affect Black, Hispanic/Latino and Native American communities, especially those in urban areas. They face higher rates of emergency department, hospitalization and deaths due to asthma, COPD and COVID-19.

Allergy & Asthma Network’s Not One More Life Trusted Messengers saw an opportunity to engage those impacted by health disparities by going where they gather: churches, faith-based settings and other community venues. Starting in September 2020, the Network has hosted more than 20 Not One More Life events.

Attendees received free asthma and COPD screenings and COVID-19 education and vaccinations. They were given referrals and patient education to make informed, evidence-based decisions about their health. Furthermore, uncontrolled high-risk patients were enrolled in a digital health/telehealth coaching program free of charge for six weeks. To date, over 5000 patients have been screened and more than 500 received coaching to improve lung function and quality of life.

Expanding access to care and encouraging underserved communities to participate in research are key in achieving health equity. Allergy & Asthma Network is excited to be a part of the US COPD Coalition as we work together to address the needless death and burden caused by asthma and COPD.

Hospital Safety Grades from The Leapfrog Group Show Pandemic-Era Declines in Patient Experience

The following is excerpted from a press release from the Leapfrog Group, a patient safety advocacy organization.

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 10, 2022—The Leapfrog Group, a national watchdog organization of employers and other purchasers focused on health care safety, today released the spring 2022 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, which assigns a letter grade to nearly 3,000 U.S. general hospitals based on over 30 measures of patient safety. The Safety Grade is the only rating solely focused on a hospital’s ability to protect patients from preventable errors, accidents, injuries, and infections. The latest grades provide a look at the impact of COVID-19 on patient safety, with several measures included in the grade showing a significant decline.

Recent studies have shown that the pandemic has reversed years of progress on patient safety efforts. The updated data included in the Safety Grade, some of which reflects a pandemic-era timeframe, heighten these findings and demonstrate how patient care worsened due to strains on the health care system and workforce.

The updated Hospital Safety Grades are published alongside a new report from The Leapfrog Group, Patient Experience During the Pandemic: Adult Inpatient Care. The report provides further insight into how patient experience has declined between the pre-pandemic and mid-pandemic timeframe.

“The health care workforce has faced unprecedented levels of pressure during the pandemic, and as a result, patients’ experience with their care appears to have suffered,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “We commend the workforce for their heroic efforts these past few years and now strongly urge hospital leadership to recommit to improved care—from communication to responsiveness—and get back on track with patient safety outcomes.”

At HospitalSafetyGrade.org, the public can find detailed information about a hospital’s performance on patient experience and other safety measures used to grade hospitals.

Across all states, highlights of findings from the spring 2022 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade include:

  • Thirty‐three percent of hospitals received an “A,” 24% received a “B,” 36% received a “C,” 7% received a “D,” and less than 1% received an “F.”
  • Five states with the highest percentages of “A” hospitals are North Carolina, Virginia, Utah, Colorado, and Michigan.
  • There were no “A” hospitals in Wyoming, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, or North Dakota.

“Despite a general decrease in patient experience ratings, spring Grades continue to show significant variation in safety performance across U.S. hospitals,” Binder said. “This variability is a constant reminder that the public must have access to information on which hospitals are safer so patients can make the best decision for themselves and their loved ones.”

For more information about the Hospital Safety Grade, including details on individual hospital grades and state rankings, please visit HospitalSafetyGrade.org.

About The Leapfrog Group
Founded in 2000 by large employers and other purchasers, The Leapfrog Group is a national nonprofit organization driving a movement for giant leaps forward for patient safety. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade assigns letter grades to hospitals based on their record of patient safety, helping consumers protect themselves and their families from errors, injuries, accidents, and infections

US COPD Coalition Calendar

May 2022

SU
MO
TU
WE
TH
FR
SA
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
1
2
3
4
Events for May

1

No Events
Events for May

2

No Events
Events for May

3

No Events
Events for May

4

No Events
Events for May

5

No Events
Events for May

6

No Events
Events for May

7

No Events
Events for May

8

No Events
Events for May

9

No Events
Events for May

10

No Events
Events for May

11

No Events
Events for May

12

No Events
Events for May

13

No Events
Events for May

14

No Events
Events for May

15

No Events
Events for May

16

No Events
Events for May

17

No Events
Events for May

18

No Events
Events for May

19

No Events
Events for May

20

No Events
Events for May

21

No Events
Events for May

22

No Events
Events for May

23

No Events
Events for May

24

No Events
Events for May

25

No Events
Events for May

26

No Events
Events for May

27

No Events
Events for May

28

No Events
Events for May

29

No Events
Events for May

30

No Events
Events for May

31

No Events

The U.S. COPD Coalition does not charge membership dues.  100% of our revenue comes from grants and individual donations. Please consider helping us fulfill our mission by clicking on the link above and making a tax-deductible donation.