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The Difference Between Asthma and COPD

Is There a Difference Between Asthma and COPD?

Are you trying to understand the difference between asthma and COPD? You aren’t alone. It can be tricky for many Americans. So, are asthma and COPD the same thing? The basic answer is no. But, as with many medical conditions, there is more to understanding the difference between asthma and COPD than a simple “no.”

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an umbrella term for a group of progressive respiratory diseases. The two primary illnesses most often associated with COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The National Stem Cell Institute (NSI), a leading regenerative medicine clinic in the United States, reports that COPD is among the most common reasons that patients seek therapy at the clinic.

It may come as a surprise to many, but asthma and COPD are not the same. So let’s explore the difference between asthma and COPD.

Asthma vs. COPD: alike, yet different

Asthma is sometimes mistaken by the public as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It’s an easy mistake to make. COPD and asthma have similar symptoms. But asthma is, in fact, a different classification of respiratory disease. Since the difference between asthma and COPD can be difficult to understand, let’s examine both of these respiratory conditions in more depth.


Understanding the Difference Between Asthma and COPD

COPD is a progressive condition that worsens over time. Often, someone suffering from COPD has more than one of the diseases that belong to this category. Symptoms of COPD are primarily caused by a progressive decrease in airflow over a period of time, and chronic inflammation of the airways.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it is believed that approximately 24 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It’s estimated that nearly half of those who have COPD aren’t aware that they have it. Part of the reason for this is because the symptoms often begin subtly before worsening over time.

A main difference between asthma and COPD is the cause of symptoms.


COPD is frequently caused by smoking tobacco, whether actively or in the past. Early diagnosis helps to preserve lung function. However, approximately 40% of patients diagnosed with COPD are people who already have asthma, as well. Asthma can increase your risk of developing COPD, and this risk increases with age.

How can you tell the difference between asthma and COPD? How old you are at the initial onset of symptoms is one factor. Asthma usually first occurs during childhood. Symptoms of COPD generally don’t appear until after the age of 40. COPD frequently follows years of smoking.

The cause of asthma is often unknown.

A primary difference between asthma and COPD is what causes one or the other. Even to medical experts, the reason why some people develop asthma while others don’t is largely a mystery. There may be a connection between environmental and genetic factors. We do know that exposure to particular types of allergens can be a trigger. They differ from person to person, but common triggers that set off asthma include:

  • Pollen
  • Dust mites
  • Mold
  • Pet hair
  • Respiratory infection
  • Physical activity
  • Cold air
  • Smoke
  • Certain Medication
  • Stress
  • Food/drink preservatives like sulfites
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Smoking is the primary cause of COPD in “first world” countries.

It has been largely established that tobacco smoking is the main cause for COPD in the developed world. In developing nations, however, fumes and smoke that arise from fuel used for cooking and heating are the main culprits. According to the Mayo Clinic, between 20% and 30% percent of smokers are on track to develop COPD. Smoke irritates the lungs and airways. In people who smoke regularly, bronchial tubes and air sacs can lose elasticity, over-expand, and leave air trapped inside as they exhale.


While smoking and age are the main markers of the difference between asthma and COPD, approximately 1% of people who develop COPD do so because of a genetic condition known as alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAt) deficiency. AAt is a protein that plays a crucial role in protecting the lungs. When the body doesn’t produce enough, lung damage can occur. When AAt deficiency is the cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, it can affect babies and children with the deficiency as well as adults who are smokers.

Triggers can be Indicators of the Difference Between Asthma and COPD

By and large, the difference between asthma and COPD triggers are environmental versus infections. Asthmatic triggers include:

  • Allergens
  • Cold air
  • Exercise


COPD triggers include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Influenza
  • Colds
  • Sinusitis

That being said, COPD is often worsened by environmental pollutants, too.

Comorbities and Symptoms

Though there is a medical difference between asthma and COPD, the symptoms nevertheless can be strikingly similar. Often the first symptom to be noticed in either condition is shortness of breath. But airway hyper-responsiveness is another common symptom that shows up early in COPD as well as asthma. Airway hyper-responsiveness a condition in which the airways become highly sensitive to chemical inhalants and other airborne particles that are breathed in.

Comorbidities are traits that are also frequently shared between chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. A comorbidity is an illness or condition that develops in addition to the chief disease. Comorbidities regularly shared by asthma and COPD include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Impaired mobility
  • Insomnia
  • Sinusitis
  • Migraine
  • Depression
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Cancer

The Treatment Difference Between Asthma and COPD

Both COPD and asthma are long-term medical conditions. And, as with COPD, asthma is manageable with the right therapy and/or treatment. But the difference between asthma and COPD requires approaches that are specific to each disease.

Among the treatments for asthma is to educate the patient on how to recognize asthmatic triggers and how to take precautions that help to avoid them. Developing a good awareness of personal breathing patterns in order to be aware of how well your daily medication is working and to quickly recognize the onset of an asthma attack is also important.

Medically-based treatments for asthma include:

  • Allergy medication
  • Allergy shots (immunotherapy)
  • Bronchial thermoplasty
  • Bronchodilators
  • Inhalers
  • Oral and intravenous corticosteroids
  • Stem cell therapy

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, like asthma, is an ongoing health condition.

However, another difference between asthma and COPD is that COPD is virtually always progressive and life-long while asthma is not necessarily so. Childhood asthma may go away over time, though most people who have asthma will need to manage it throughout their lives.

But, whether the diagnosis is for COPD or asthma, the goal of any treatment is the management of symptoms in order to help the patient live an active and healthy life. Likewise, treatment should also aim to keep the disease from worsening.

Personal choices make a big difference in the effectiveness of medical intervention.

People who are suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease should stop smoking and steer clear of exposure to secondhand smoke. Today, there are numerous options that have proven to be effective in helping people quit using tobacco products. These include:

  • Nicotine replacement products
  • Medication
  • Therapy
  • Hypnosis
  • Support groups

smokingTraditionally, medications such as bronchodilators, inhalers, and antibiotics have been used to help control COPD symptoms. Today, however, many people are finding significant relief of symptoms without the need for harsh medications. COPD therapies that are drug-free, but medically grounded include:

  • Oxygen therapy
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Exercise training
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Stem cell therapy

Today’s Brighter Future

It is easy to understand why some people wonder, “Are asthma and copd the same thing?” The difference between asthma and COPD can be difficult to sort out. In either case, getting the right diagnosis and treatment is critical for living a full and healthy life.

Both asthma and COPD require lifelong management. But today’s therapies and treatments result in far better reduction of symptoms than in decades gone by. Advances in non-drug, naturally based medical procedures like stem cell therapy are helping patients improve quality of life while reducing dependency on medications, inhalers, and oxygen tanks.

Regenerative medicine methods are offering the best hope for a true cure regarding many lung diseases.

Regenerative medicine is quickly outpacing conventional options like steroids or surgery. Researchers believe regenerative medical practices will someday be able to wholly restore lung tissues and airways in patients with chronic lung disease. On that great day, the difference between asthma and COPD may very well become no more than a medical technicality.

In the meantime, techniques like stem cell therapy are already making a profound difference for sufferers across the United States. Regenerative medicine clinics are known popularly as stem cell clinics. In the U.S., all legitimate stem cell clinics must be properly licensed and procedures must be performed under the direction of a trained physician.

With that in mind, the National Stem Cell Institute offers tips below to help those seeking stem cell therapy make sure they are going to a legitimate, FDA guidelines-compliant regenerative clinic.

What to Look for in a Stem Cell Medical Clinic

When searching for a qualified stem cell therapy center it’s important to remember that not all of them are created equal. Stem cells, when used properly, are your body’s most powerful means for healing that can repair everything from ligaments, tendons, and cartilage to organs including your liver, pancreas and lungs and even neurological tissue like your brain, nerves and spinal cord.

Unfortunately, the majority of so-called “regenerative medicine clinics” in the world aren’t trained in the latest, most technologically advanced procedures and will, therefore, provide poor results if any.

The good news is the National Stem Cell Institute (NSI) has established the most advanced stem cell and platelet rich plasma procedures on the planet which has drawn patients from all over the world as well as professional athletes and celebrities because they are recognized as the best in the world at stem cell therapy.


What makes NSI Stem Cell the top stem cell clinic in the world is demonstrated in 5 key areas:

1. Highly trained and experienced, board-certified doctors and team members who have performed stem cell procedures on thousands of patients with incredible results.

2. Cutting edge procedures utilizing all that regenerative medicine has to offer for many chronic degenerative conditions.

3. Leading scientific researchers who follow the advanced guidelines to maximize the healing potential of your stem cells and to maintain compliance and ethics

4. Use of only the most potent and viable resource of living, viable stem cells and harvested on the same day. No vial that you can purchase will contain living stem cells. If there is no harvest then there are no stem cells.

5. Post-operative guidance for supporting stem-cell growth including rehabilitation, diet and supplement protocols. NSI is a full-service healthcare center focused on patient outcomes. Stem cell therapy is only one tool used to help improve patients’ lives.

Patients have raved about their experience at NSI Stem Cell Clinics testifying that it was their unique cutting-edge procedures that helped them experience a breakthrough when nothing else worked.

If you want to learn more about NSI Stem Cell Clinics, you can set up a complimentary consultation today to see if you are a candidate. You can contact the National Stem Cell Institute at (877) 278-3623.