Asthma is a long-term lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. Asthma often starts during childhood but it affects people of all ages. Some factors are more likely to cause asthma, such as family history of allergies or asthma and respiratory infections during childhood. Common signs of asthma include recurring episodes of shortness of breath, cough, wheezing and chest tightness. Many factors trigger or worsen asthma symptoms, such as allergens (dust, domestic pets, mold and pollens), irritants (cigarette smoke, air pollution), colds and exercise. Most asthma drugs are taken using an inhaler, a device that delivers the drug directly to the lungs. Inhaled short-acting bronchodilators are the first choice for rescue medicine as they quickly relax the muscles in the airways and relieve asthma symptoms. Inhaled corticosteroids are the most effective long-term control medicines to reduce airway inflammation and prevent asthma symptoms.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive disease caused by long-term exposure to cigarette smoking. Other lung irritants (air pollution, chemical), may also contribute to COPD. Irritants damages include airways inflammation (chronic bronchitis) and air sacs destruction in the lungs (emphysema). Most people are at least 40 years old when symptoms begin. COPD signs associate coughing, excessive production of mucus and shortness of breath. Symptoms often worsen over time and can limit ability to do routine activities like walking. COPD diagnosis is based on spirometry, which measures the amount and speed of air that can be inhaled and exhaled. Quitting smoking is the most important step to treat COPD. Short-acting or long-acting bronchodilators, exercise program (pulmonary rehabilitation) can help to breathe. Long-term oxygen improves the well being of people with severe COPD.