Diseases: Asthma + COPD
Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the airways in the lungs. It causes these airways to swell and tighten, resulting in shortness of breath such as wheezing, chest tightness and coughing1,2.
These symptoms can be from the inhalation of substances that are called allergens or triggers, although they can also occur from other causes. It is important to determine what your own triggers are to avoid them since each one affects you differently1,2,3.
Common asthma triggers include1,3:
- Tobacco smoke
- Dust mites
- Air pollution
- Animals (pet dander or fur)
- Respiratory infections
- Strong emotions (stress)
Some people need medicine to treat asthma. The goals of treatment would be used to control the inflammation that occurs in the airways. Although it would also be necessary to limit in some way the exposure to the triggers that cause asthma1,3.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a disease of the airways that causes chronic inflammation of the lungs, which causes the bronchi to become progressively obstructed, making it difficult for air to enter4,5,6,7.
COPD evolves progressively and, in general, the symptoms begin to be evident after 40 or 50 years of age4,6.
The symptoms they present are4,5,7:
- Difficulty breathing
- Frequent cough
- Cough with expectoration or sputum
- Lung noises or whistles
The deterioration of lung function that develops in this disease is progressive, and therefore, this implies that the symptoms will get worse and worse5.
Although this disease can be caused by several reasons, the main one and the one that makes it worse is smoking, since it causes inflammation of the bronchi and destruction of the pulmonary septa. Working in polluting environments, as would be the case of coal or metallurgical workers, are also causes for developing it4,7.
People with this disease have a very high risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer and other conditions7.
There are two conditions that contribute to COPD, they often happen together and the severity can vary between different individuals who have it. These two conditions are emphysema and chronic bronchitis7.
Although it is a disease that gets worse over time, it can be treated. The most common treatment is usually bronchodilators that are administered from an inhaler. The purpose of these bronchodilators is to reduce the feeling of shortness of breath. But the main key to treatment is to stop smoking5,6.
4 “Enfermedad Pulmonar Obstructiva Crónica (EPOC)” https://www.clinicbarcelona.org/asistencia/enfermedades/enfermedad-pulmonar-obstructiva-cronica-epoc
5 “Malaltia pulmonar obstructiva crònica (MPOC)” https://canalsalut.gencat.cat/ca/detalls/article/Malaltia_pulmonar_obstructiva_cronica#bloc2
6 “La Enfermedad Pulmonar Obstructiva Crónica (EPOC)” https://www.mgc.es/ca/blog/la-malaltia-pulmonar-obstructiva-cronica-mpoc/