Asthma vs. COPD – How to Determine the Difference | Endeavor Home Care, Scottsdale, AZ

Senior Care Scottsdale AZUnstoppable coughing. Shortness of breath. Wheezing. Sound like an asthma attack? 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 as many as 12 million Americans currently living with COPD (and just as many who likely have the disease but are undiagnosed), it’s important to determine the real cause behind the cough.

Take a look at some of the major 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.

Available medication options for either condition might be the same – bronchodilators or inhaled steroids – but, treatment plans between the two are very different. Asthma patients are urged to avoid known triggers, such as staying indoors when the pollen count is high and avoiding 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 important to visit the physician if you’re concerned that your senior loved one is suffering with any type of lung condition.

Even though there’s currently no cure for either asthma or COPD, both conditions are better managed when properly diagnosed and treated. COPD results in permanent, irreversible damage to the lungs, but when treated, the progression of the disease can be slowed down, its symptoms made more manageable, and quality of life enhanced.

You can also call on Endeavor Home Care of Scottsdale AZ to provide assistance at home that can help 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, call Endeavor Home Care in-home care experts at 480.535.6800 or contact us online by clicking here.

Lessons in Senior Health Care: How COPD Is Diagnosed and Treated

Senior Health CareSometimes, learning of a diagnosis for difficult symptoms can be a relief. Finally, you can name the condition, and follow a plan to treat it! This is often the case for those suffering with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). If your senior loved one has been impacted by chronic coughing, wheezing, and fatigue, being diagnosed with COPD may be the first step in helping to improve her quality of life.

Here’s what you can expect the doctor to review in diagnosing COPD:

  • Assessment of the senior’s health and environment, to include smoking, exposure to pollutants, symptoms, and family health history
  • Testing such as spirometry (breathing into a machine to check lung functioning), x-rays and blood work
  • Creation of a treatment plan

Since COPD symptoms can be different from one person to another, treatment plans can vary widely as well. Here are some potential ways your senior loved one’s doctor may try to help her best manage the disease:

  • Medications, to include any of the following:
    • Bronchodilators taken through an inhaler to help open airways, available in both short-term and long-term formulations, to work immediately as needed or to be taken ongoing for maintenance
    • Steroids and corticosteroids work to reduce inflammation, swelling and mucous production
    • Antibiotics to address any bacterial infections in the lungs
    • Immunizations to protect against flu and pneumonia, as those with COPD are at a greater risk for complications from these illnesses
  • Pulmonary therapy works to strengthen the lungs through guided exercise and nutrition.
  • Oxygen therapy, available through liquid or gas oxygen tanks or oxygen concentrators that utilize the oxygen already in the environment.
  • Lung surgery may be an option if symptoms are extremely severe.
  • Palliative care focuses treatment on improving quality of life, and is available to anyone diagnosed with COPD, regardless of the prognosis or stage of the disease.
  • Clinical trials help researchers determine the success of new, experimental treatments, regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Talk with your senior loved one’s physician to see if clinical trials are an option, and check the American Lung Association’s clinical trial search page for opportunities near you.

Regardless of the doctor’s recommended plan to help your senior loved one manage her COPD, Endeavor Home Care can help with in-home senior health care that can enhance quality of life. Whether the senior requires dignity in helping with personal care tasks like bathing and dressing, assistance with help around the home, meals, transportation and running errands, or merely a kind, caring companion to talk to and share in enjoyable activities together, our fully trained and experienced caregivers are here for you. Contact us at 480.535.6800 to learn more.