Top Personal Care Agency in Chicago Shares the Facts on COPD vs. Asthma

Coughing that just won’t quit. Shortness of breath. Wheezing. Probably an asthma attack, right? Before grabbing an inhaler or those over-the-counter cough drops, however, it may be time to see if another culprit – COPD – could be causing the problem. With upwards of 12 million Americans now living with COPD (and another 12 million who likely have the disease but are so far undiagnosed), it’s critical to determine the true cause behind that cough.

A closer look reveals some important differences between these two conditions:


  • Environmental factors such as cigarette smoke, dust, and pet hair can trigger asthmatic symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath.
  • Usually displays in patients in childhood, often by age 5.
  • Thought to be caused by genetics.


  • Environmental triggers can exacerbate symptoms like coughing and difficulty breathing, but these symptoms are often present in a milder form regardless of air quality.
  • Typically diagnosed after age 40.
  • Caused mainly by cigarette smoking (in up to 90% of all patients), or by secondhand exposure to air pollutants.

While medications available for both COPD and asthma are often similar – bronchodilators or inhaled steroids – their treatment plans usually differ. Asthma patients are urged to keep away from known triggers, i.e., by staying inside when the pollen count is high and steering clear of secondhand smoke. COPD patients, on the other hand, face a more intense treatment approach, often including prescribed oxygen, pulmonary rehabilitation to maximize breathing capacity, and, most importantly, not smoking.

Of course, it’s crucial to see the doctor if you’re concerned that your senior loved one is struggling with any lung condition.

There’s currently no cure for either asthma or COPD; however, both conditions can be better managed when properly diagnosed and treated. Although COPD does cause permanent, irreversible damage to the lungs, with correct treatment, the progression of the disease can be slowed down, its symptoms made more manageable, and quality of life maximized.

Home & Hearth Caregivers, a personal care agency in the Chicago area, is also on hand to provide help at home that can make a chronic condition easier to manage. Some of the many ways we can help include:

  • Light housework, to ensure as much dust as possible is removed from the home
  • Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and to pick up prescriptions
  • Encouragement and participation in physician-approved exercise programs
  • Planning and preparation of nutritious, delicious meals
  • Friendly, compassionate companionship
  • And much more

To help your senior loved one remain safe and healthy at home, contact the personal care agency you can trust for the highest quality care: Home & Hearth Caregivers at 800-349-0663.

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6432 Joliet Road
Countryside, IL

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