Difference Between Asthma and COPD

Chronic Obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchial asthma are Obstructive lung diseases. Both COPD and Asthma affect the bronchial airways called bronchioles in the respiratory tract. COPD and Asthma both diseases can be diagnosed with the same test called pulmonary function test (PFT). Even though they have a lot of similarities, they are different in many aspects.

Asthma vs COPD

The main difference between Asthma and COPD is that Asthma narrows airways, redness, swell, and cause additional production of mucus. COPD congests the airflow from the lungs, swells the bronchial tubes, and causes the destruction and dilation of alveoli. Asthma is a respiratory disease and COPD is a general term that describes a group of diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Asthma vs COPD

Asthma is a hereditary disease caused by genetic and environmental factors. Bronchial inflammation often occurs due to an inflammatory reaction caused by allergens such as dust, pollen, cold air, mold, smoke, stress, or physical activity. Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that cannot be cured completely but can be managed easily with regular exercises, yoga, and medications.

COPD isn’t a hereditary disease but rarely occurs in people inherited with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD). It is often caused due to exposure to various chemical substances such as tobacco smoking, toxic fumes, and gases in the developing world. COPD can get worse over time but it can be controlled by regular treatments prescribed by a doctor.

Comparison Table Between Asthma and COPD

Parameters of ComparisonAsthmaCOPD
causesIt is caused as an inflammatory reaction to allergic substances such as dust, pet hair, cold air, or stress.It is caused by smoking, burning fuels, or other chemical gases.
AgeCan be seen at any age.Can be seen in middle-aged people.
symptomsWheezing, shortness of breath, and cough.Wheezing, shortness of breath, and cough.
TreatmentsCorticosteroids, Bronchodilators, and Bronchial Thermoplasty.Corticosteroids, Bronchodilators, and surgeries.
Response to TreatmentIt has a good response to treatment and lung function can be fully reversed.It also has a good response to treatments, but lung function can get worse over time.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that affects all ages and gender. The oxygen is transported to the lungs through smaller branches of bronchial airways called bronchioles. During Asthma attacks, these airways get irritated due to the entry of allergic substances into the bronchioles. The mast cell a type of immune cell that releases histamine causes the contraction of surrounding smooth muscles and the bronchioles get red, swollen, and narrow making it difficult to breathe.

Asthma is a hereditary disease that can be inherited from blood relatives through generations. A person is more likely to get Asthma through a family history of the disease but in not all cases Asthma is inherited because it also has various other risk factors.

The major symptoms of Asthma are wheezing, coughing, and difficulty in breathing. Asthma attacks can be controlled by regular breathing exercises, home remedies such as intake of caffeine, and proper medications prescribed by a doctor.

Asthma has a combination of inhaled and orally taking medicines, it comes in inhalers, syrups, and tablets. The corticosteroids and bronchodilators medications are effective in the long-term run and provide quick relief to Asthma attacks by relaxing the smooth muscles around the bronchioles.

What is COPD?

Chronic Obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic lung disease caused by the airways blocks in the lungs. The bronchioles are inflamed, narrowed, and filled with excess production of mucus making it hard to breathe. COPD mainly occurs due to smoking, inhaling toxic chemicals and gases, particulate matter, and fumes from burning fuels, however, smoking is one of the biggest risk factors, and It most often affects middle-aged people. People suffering from COPD have more chance of getting other chronic diseases like lung cancer and heart diseases.

COPD is not a hereditary disease however, in rare cases COPD can be inherited due to a rare genetic disorder called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD), where the level of AAT proteins is very low and they are unable to protect the lungs.

COPD is a term that represents a set of two chronic lung diseases. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are caused by inflammation, destruction, and dilation of bronchial tubes in the lungs. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, weight loss, and difficulty in breathing.

COPD can be controlled by quitting smoking, regular breathing exercises, and consuming proper treatments. Medications such as bronchodilators and corticosteroids are effective in the rapid relaxation of the muscles around the bronchioles.

Main Differences Between Asthma and COPD

  1. Both Asthma and COPD are chronic lung diseases, but asthma is a separate respiratory disease, on other hand, COPD is a term for a group of two chronic lung diseases.
  2. Asthma is caused due to inhalation of certain allergens, but COPD is caused due to smoking and inhalation of toxic substances.
  3. Asthmatic inflammation occurs in eosinophils immune cells, but COPD inflammation occurs in neutrophils immune cells.
  4. Asthmatic symptoms occur only during a certain period but, COPD symptoms can be seen all time.
  5. In Asthmatic diagnosis, reversible airflow limitations occur, but  COPD diagnoses are non- reversible.
  6. Asthma occurs in all ages, but COPD occurs in middle-age.


Both Chronic Obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and Asthma are obstructive lung diseases. Asthma is caused by inflammatory reactions and Asthma attacks can be managed perfectly by knowing a person’s Asthmatic Triggers without affecting day-to-day life. Asthma can be controlled fully and even partly curable by following a healthy lifestyle and the right treatments. The main cause for COPD is cigarette smoking, it is a progressive disease that is more dangerous and can even cause death and other chronic diseases. COPD causes destruction and dilation of alveoli of the lungs affecting the day-to-day life of people.

Asthma and COPD both can be diagnosed effortlessly, however, both the treatment and diagnosis are the same for Asthma and COPD. Both Asthma and COPD patients can bring down their symptoms and reduce complications by following the right treatment prescribed by a doctor.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0940299306000236
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012369215527499
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