Asthma & COPD – Frequently Asked Questions!

Asthma & COPD – Frequently Asked Questions!


By Dr. Vivek Patil, Pulmonology

1. What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic, inflammatory disease of the lungs in which the airways narrow leading to symptoms like coughing, breathlessness, chest tightness, wheezing, often in response to triggers such as exposure to an allergen, exercise, or emotional stress.

2. What are the common Asthma Triggers?

Common asthma triggers include allergens (dust, pollens, molds, animal dander), air pollution, industrial chemical exposure, upper respiratory infections, perfumes and strong smells, cold air, exercise, and emotional stress.

3. How is Asthma Diagnosed?

Since asthma symptoms can closely resemble symptoms of other respiratory problems asthma often goes undiagnosed for long periods of time. Doctors diagnose asthma with tests like PFT (Spirometry – which measures the air inhaled and exhaled from the lungs), oximetry, Peakflowmetry, chest x-rays, blood tests, and allergy skin tests.


4. How is Asthma Treated?

The best way to treat asthma is to avoid the allergens or triggers that bring on an asthma attack. However, allergen avoidance is not always possible. Drug therapy consists of anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation and swelling and bronchodilators to open up constricted airways. Long term control of asthma is possible with the use of inhaled medication, which if indicated can be safely taken for years under medical supervision.

5. What is COPD?

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of COPD. Exposure to household smoke (chulha), other irritants, such as Chemicals, Dust, Air pollution and passive smoking contribute significantly to the development and worsening of COPD. Even if there is no perfect cure for COPD, certain measures can be taken to manage the disease and improve patient‘s quality of life.

6. What are the Symptoms of COPD?

Common COPD symptoms are chronic cough, production of lots of mucus, breathlessness especially with activity, wheezing, tightness in the chest and only limited relief with routine medication.

7. How is COPD diagnosed?

The most common test used to diagnose COPD is PFT (Spirometry). Additional tests may have to be ordered to rule out other lung problems, such as asthma or heart failure.

8. How is COPD Treated?

Not all people with COPD have the same symptoms and treatment may differ from person to person. It is important to talk to your doctor about your treatment options and to get answers to all of your questions. By taking the right medicine at the right time, you can Breathe better, Do more of the things you enjoy, Have fewer flare-ups or exacerbations.