AsthmaAsthma is a condition that makes it difficult to breathe. It usually begins with exposure to a "trigger," which is exposure to something (usually an external allergen) that causes the airways to react. During an asthma attack, the lung airways tighten and fill with fluid. The resulting effects are chest tightness, wheezing, breathlessness, and coughing. Asthma attacks can vary in severity and triggers vary person to person. There is no cure for asthma, but you can manage it through proper medication and avoiding things that trigger your asthma.
COPDChronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a group of lung diseases that make it difficult to breathe. The most common lung conditions that make up COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing. COPD is a progressive disease, which means that it gets worse over time. COPD also has no cure. For this reason, COPD can result in major long term disability and can limit peoples' ability to perform routine activities. People who have COPD have a higher risk of getting respiratory infections such as a cold, pneumonia, and the flu.
AsthmaThe CDC National Asthma Control Program reports that 1 in 11 children and 1 in 12 adults have asthma. In the year 2009, there were 8.9 million doctor visits, 1.9 million emergency department visits, 479,300 hospitalizations, and 3,388 deaths due to asthma. Since there is no cure for asthma, it is a health burden that stays with people for their whole lives. This translates into lifelong costs for medication and treatment. However, there are also many direct and indirect economic costs associated with asthma. The CDC reports that in 2008, there were 10.5 million days of school and 14.2 million days of work that were missed due to asthma. Overall, asthma costs $56 billion per year in the United States.
COPDCOPD plays a large role in death and disability in the United States: it is the third leading cause of death and approximately 15 million Americans are diagnosed with COPD (although this number may be higher). COPD cannot be cured and it gets progressively worse over time, resulting in major long-term disability. Treatment is necessary in order to reduce the symptoms and help slow down its progression. This can include medicine, surgery, and oxygen therapy. COPD can also lead to other health issues such as heart disease, lung cancer, and high blood pressure.
AsthmaAsthma triggers can come from a variety of sources, such as outdoor allergens, chemicals used in certain occupations, vigorous exercise, or even some medical conditions. Some common triggers include
- dust mites
- secondhand smoke
- air pollution and smoke
- strenuous exercise
It is important to remember that triggers vary from person to person.
COPDTo understand COPD, it helps to understand how the lungs work. When you breathe, oxygen enters the bloodstream through small air sacs (called alveoli) at the end of the airways in the lungs. At the same time, waste gasses like carbon dioxide leave the blood and are exhaled. Normally, the air sacs are elastic (or stretchy), and inflate and deflate like balloons during breathing. In COPD, less air flows through the airways due to one or more of the following:
- The airways and sacs lose some of their elasticity
- The walls between many of the air sacs are destroyed
- The airways make more mucus than usual, which can clog them
- The walls of the airways become thick and inflamed
In emphysema, the walls between many of the air sacs are damaged, causing them to lose shape and become floppy. The walls of the air sacs can also be destroyed, leading to fewer, larger sacs that reduce the amount of air that is exchanged.
In chronic bronchitis, the lining of the airways is constantly inflamed and irritated, causing it to thicken. Large quantities of thick mucus also form in the airways, making it hard to breathe.
Source: National Health, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2013, "What is COPD?"
AsthmaThere are many factors that influence the risk of developing asthma. The CDC reports that risk is increased in the following areas
- Gender: For children, boys are more likely to have asthma. However, for adults, women are more likely to have asthma.
- Age: Young adults ages 18-24 are more likely to have asthma when compared with older adults.
- Race and ethnicity: For children, Black children are twice as likely to have asthma than White children. For adults, multiracial and Black adults have a higher risk than White adults.
- Education: Adults who did not graduate high school have a higher risk than adults who did graduate high school or college.
- Income: People with incomes below $75,000 per year are more likely to have asthma than those who have greater incomes.
- Behavior: Smoking increases the risk of asthma as does obesity.
COPDRisk factors for COPD include the following:
- Smoking: Tobacco smoke is the most important risk factor in developing COPD. The best way to prevent COPD is to not smoke or to stop smoking if you already do so.
- Secondhand smoke: Secondhand smoke is the smoke that comes from burning tobacco products and the smoke that has been breathed out by the person smoking. Secondhand smoke can also increase the risk of COPD as well.
- Asthma: People with asthma, or who have had asthma, may have an increased risk of developing COPD.
- Genetics: Some people may have a rare genetic mutation called alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, which may cause COPD.
- Workplace exposure: People who work in certain settings may be exposure more frequently to chemicals, dust, or other irritants that can harm the lungs.
AsthmaEven though asthma has no cure, you can reduce the risk of severe complications, hospitalizations, and death due to asthma by properly taking prescribed medication and knowing your triggers. When you know your triggers, you can take action to avoid them, thus, preventing asthma attacks.
Once you are diagnosed with asthma, your healthcare provider will advise you on how to properly manage it. Asthma can usually be managed in an outpatient setting, reducing the need for emergency department visits. The majority of problems associated with asthma, including emergency department visits, are preventable if asthma is managed according to established guidelines. Effective management includes control of exposures to factors that trigger exacerbations, adequate pharmacological management, continual monitoring of the disease, and patient education in asthma care.
COPDThere are many things you can do to prevent COPD:
- The best way to prevent COPD is to not smoke. Even if you have already been diagnosed with COPD, quitting smoking can improve symptoms and possibly avoid worse complications.
- Use personal protective gear at work to limit your exposure to lung irritants and chemicals
If COPD can be caught and diagnosed early, treatment can begin earlier before progression worsens.
AsthmaThe UEPHTN receives data regarding asthma hospitalizations and emergency department visits from the Office of Health Care Statistics in the Utah Department of Health. Asthma prevalence data comes from the Utah Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey. Asthma management data comes from the Asthma Call-Back Survey. The BRFSS and ACBS are conducted by the Survey Center in the Office of Public Health Assessment.
COPDThe Utah EPHTN receives hospital admission and emergency department visit data for COPD from the Office of Health Care Statistics in the Utah Department of Health.
Asthma - Adults (BRFSS)
Asthma - Adolescents (YRBS)
Asthma and Pregnancy (PRAMS)
Hospitalizations:- Asthma, Diagnosis - NCHS 113 Leading Causes: Asthma
- COPD, Diagnosis - ICD-9 Codes 490-492, 496
Emergency Department (ED) Visits:- Asthma, Diagnosis - NCHS 113 Leading Causes: Asthma
- COPD, Diagnosis - ICD-9 Codes 490-492, 496
Mortality:- Asthma, NCHS 113 Leading Causes: Asthma
- COPD, ICD-10 Codes J40-J44