What is COPD and does asthma have anything to do with it?
COPD is an acronym for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The disease is characterized by widespread obstruction to the flow of air through the lungs. The disease usually worsens over time, though symptoms may “wax and wane.”
The two most common forms of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Simply stated, chronic bronchitis is an illness defined by a cough with sputum production that is present for three months of the year for two consecutive years. Emphysema, on the other hand, is an illness that involves the destruction of the walls of the air spaces within the lung.
Although there is a congenital form of emphysema related to an enzyme deficiency, cigarette smoking is the greatest risk factor for acquiring both of these illnesses. There is also evidence to suggest that environmental factors i.e., occupational and environmental exposure and passive cigarette smoke, contribute to the development of COPD.
It is possible that asthma and COPD can coexist in the same patient; however, asthma is largely a reversible airway disease (though over time untreated asthma may lead to a permanent decrease in lung function) and is not classified as COPD.