Back to home

Asthma and COPD in a nutshell

Facts | 9/12/2018
Asthma and COPD in a nutshell

Tightness in the chest, wheezing and persistent cough can be signs of either asthma or COPD, which are both chronic pulmonary diseases. What exactly causes asthma or COPD, what happens in your lungs with these diseases and how are they treated? Here are answers to common questions.

SHORTNESS OF BREATH? YOU MIGHT HAVE ASTHMA

What is asthma?

When you have shortness of breath or tightness in your chest, experience wheezing or suffer from prolonged coughing, you might have asthma.

With asthma, the airways in your lungs are sensitive, inflamed and become irritated in certain situations. Irritated airways can produce more mucus and become narrow, which makes it difficult to breathe.

Asthma symptoms can get worse when something irritates the airways. This is called an asthma attack, and the things that make your symptoms worse are commonly called asthma triggers.

What causes asthma?

Asthma can affect people at any age and can change over time. Asthma that starts in childhood can later get better or disappear, but some children have problems as adults as well.

There are several risk factors for asthma. These include for instance allergies, air pollution and family history. Ultimately, you can also develop asthma without exposure to any risk factors but this is less likely.

If you have asthma, it’s very important to get to know your asthma triggers. This way you can try to avoid or manage them. Common asthma triggers include colds and other respiratory infections, house-dust mites, allergies to furry pets, cigarette smoke, exercise, stress, excitement or anger, and poor air quality or pollen.

What is the treatment for asthma?

There is currently no cure for asthma, but there are medicines available to help control the symptoms. When your asthma is under control it doesn’t interfere with your normal daily life.

Taking your asthma medicine as advised is one of the most important things in asthma treatment. Avoiding the asthma triggers that make your symptoms worse is another one.

You should always discuss your treatment with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist, and make sure you understand the instructions. If asthma symptoms bug you often, you should talk to your doctor or nurse to have your symptoms reviewed and medication adjusted.

Asthma inhalers – what is a preventer or a reliever?

Asthma is primarily treated with inhaled medicines: preventers and relievers.

A preventer controls the swelling and inflammation in your airways which helps to control the symptoms and reduces the risk of severe asthma attacks. The preventer must be taken regularly, whether or not you are feeling wheezy or short of breath.

A reliever, on the other hand, is a short or long-acting bronchodilator which relaxes tight bronchial muscles, opens the airways and makes it easier to breathe. Relievers do not treat the underline cause of asthma, inflammation in the airways. Therefore, preventers are needed as the base medication and relievers are used if needed.

It is important that you know how to use your inhaler properly. A lot of people don't!

ALSO READ:

7 steps to getting the most out of your asthma inhaler

New to asthma? 6 simple steps to breathing easier

 

HARD TO BREATHE? COPD IS A CHRONIC PULMONARY DISEASE

What is COPD?

Shortness of breath, wheezing and persistent coughing can also be symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, COPD. Another symptom of COPD is increased mucus production.

People with COPD commonly have chronic bronchitis, which involves a long-term cough with mucus, or emphysema that involves destruction of the lungs over time. There can also be increased connective tissue around the small airways, which causes airway obstruction. Most people with COPD have a combination of these three conditions. These conditions cause breathing difficulties among other things and the obstruction of the airways is not reversible like in asthma.

People with COPD also have many respiratory infections, and during these, their condition is usually worse.

What causes COPD?

Smoking is the leading cause of COPD, though not all people with COPD have smoked, and not all smokers develop COPD.

Exposure to gases or fumes in the workplace or heavy amounts of second hand smoke and pollution are also risk factors for COPD, as is frequent use of cooking fire without proper ventilation.

The symptoms for COPD typically develop slowly and people don’t always realize they have a disease. If you have chest symptoms, it’s important to tell your physician about them in order to get a proper diagnosis.

What is the treatment for COPD?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for COPD. However, there are many things you can do to cope with your symptoms and help your everyday life.

It is very important to stop smoking if you have COPD, as this is the best way to slow down lung damage. Healthy diet and exercise will also help you manage your symptoms and breathe easier.

COPD is also treated with inhalers. Medication for COPD includes different kinds of bronchodilators that are usually inhaled. There are short-acting and long-acting bronchodilators, and you might also need anti-inflammatory medication for lower lung function of frequent worsening of your condition.

 

By Anne Ventelä

 

READ ALSO:

Living with COPD – ease the tightness with these fresh habits


Orion invests in research and development of treatment options for people with asthma and COPD while also developing the design and usability of the Easyhaler® inhaler device platform. The focus is on safety and quality in each step of the product life cycle while taking care of the environment. All aspects of sustainability - social, economic and environmental - are carefully considered in the whole product life cycle. Sustainability is entwined in the whole process from R&D through manufacturing, including patient use and the disposal of old inhalers.

You can download the Orion Sustainability Report 2018 here

Read more

Facts
How do I know if I have COPD?

How do I know if I have COPD?

What is COPD, how is it diagnosed and treated?

Facts
Do I have asthma?

Do I have asthma?

Having trouble breathing? Having a persistent cough? Here’s how you can tell if you have asthma.

Health
Can hormones affect my asthma?

Can hormones affect my asthma?

Self-care is important for all women with asthma, especially at times of hormonal change.

Health
Don’t let asthma or COPD ruin your love life

Don’t let asthma or COPD ruin your love life

Here are some tips for not letting asthma get in the way of your love life.

Facts
Why do people get COPD?

Why do people get COPD?

While genetics and pollution may play a role, the leading cause for COPD in Europe is tobacco smoke.

Health
Asthma and COPD travelling tips

Asthma and COPD travelling tips

Make your next holiday symptom-free and focus all your attention and energy on the call to adventure.

Health
5 tips to boost your immune system for winter

5 tips to boost your immune system for winter

Here are a few useful tips to help you power through the cold and flu season.

Facts
6 tips for using your inhaler more efficiently

6 tips for using your inhaler more efficiently

Read these 6 tips that might make forgetting your preventive inhaler a thing of the past.

Facts
Common questions about inhaled corticosteroids

Common questions about inhaled corticosteroids

Take a look at some common questions on preventative asthma meds.

Health
How to prevent asthma flare-ups at school

How to prevent asthma flare-ups at school

Here's how best to manage your child’s wellbeing in the busy back-to-school season.

Health
How to support someone with COPD

How to support someone with COPD

Dr. Daniela Figueiredo gives advice on how to support your loved one with COPD and yourself.

Health
Can I have a pet if I have asthma or COPD?

Can I have a pet if I have asthma or COPD?

Read about the pros, cons and lifestyle hacks around pet ownership if you have asthma.

Health
Enjoy your summer free of asthma symptoms

Enjoy your summer free of asthma symptoms

If you have a tendency towards allergic asthma, read on how to enjoy your summer free of symptoms.

Facts
How to deal with an asthma attack

How to deal with an asthma attack

We take a look at what’s happening in your body during asthma attack, what triggers it and the immediate actions you should take.

Health
How exercise can help with COPD

How exercise can help with COPD

Studies show that exercise can help people with COPD. The key is to go slow and steady.

Facts
Is your treatment plan working?

Is your treatment plan working?

Work through this checklist to see if it’s time you visited your healthcare provider.

Health
Make your cleaning free of asthma

Make your cleaning free of asthma

A thorough clean can eliminate allergens. Read on to learn how to make cleaning safe and asthma-free.

Facts
Making the most of your inhaler

Making the most of your inhaler

Read these tips on the correct use of your device and the best way to clean, store and look after it.

Health
Spring’s in the air: 5 ways to take care of your lungs

Spring’s in the air: 5 ways to take care of your lungs

Spring can be a difficult time for people living with asthma and COPD. Read these 5 tips on improving your well-being during Spring.

Health
Overcoming your fear of an asthma attack

Overcoming your fear of an asthma attack

If you feel a flare-up in your asthma symptoms, it's important to stay calm and positive.

Facts
5 features your inhaler should have

5 features your inhaler should have

There are a few features to look for while working with your medical provider to find the right type of inhaler.


Read more




Orion Corporation | Orionintie 1A, FI-02200 Espoo, Finland | Tel. +358 10 4261
Policies Contact us Orion Corporation 2020