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Is asthma a type of COPD ?

When I was sick the last few weeks, which seemed to me like all the other asthmatic bronchitas I have ever had, and was treated the same. The N..P. and MD kept saying it was COPD. I was too sick to ask why they were saying that. I always thought COPD was like emphysema and things like that. Thanks K

  1. There seems to be some debate on this. I have asthma (with HRCT scans recently ruling out emphysema, chronic bronchitis and bronchiectasis) and my well renowned pulmonologist does NOT consider stand-alone asthma to be COPD, because it is reversible. Asthma can certainly overlap with COPD however.

    1. Hi and - you each make interesting points. There is some discussion on this topic in the medical community. Opinions can vary (as you said, Otter), from physician to physician.
      As well Kathy, some physicians and their staff classify asthma under the umbrella of COPD.
      We do have some interesting information published, right here on, which speaks to this concern. For your convenience, here is a link to several of them: If you are so inclined, you can look them over at your leisure.
      Wishing each of you well,
      Leon (site moderator

  2. Hi. I had a doctor do the same thing to me a few years ago. And there are times when asthma can overlap with copd ( and fall into the category of COPD. Although, I believe this is not very common. The really only the way of learning if you have COPD instead of asthma, or if you have asthma that has progressed to COPD ( is to talk to your primary care doctor and have a pulmonary function test (PFT) done. This is the really only sure way of diagnosing both asthma and COPD, as is described in the articles above. After having a discussion with my doctor, he did order a PFT and COPD was ruled out, as I describe here (https). :// Have you considered discussing this with your asthma doctor? John. community moderator.

    1. True what you say. Asthma can overlap with copd, as noted here ( Glad that your doctor was on top of things and ruled out emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and bronchiectasis for you. John. community moderator.

      1. I did read the articles. As usual, very informative and I gained some personal understanding of my situation. I did have 2 PFTs several years ago. The 1st was inconclusive because I developed a bronchial cough after about 2/3 rds of the way of the test. Second type time around same dx. But wheezing/coughing during exams.
        I looked at 2 chest x-rays reports, taken in the last 18 month which both said mild COPD. An imaging report showed COPD to be a little more spread. But, my MD said she felt I still had asthma. Long , but hope I've got it straight. Thanks for all the info.

    2. My impression of COPD is that it a progressive lung disease. The people I have seen with COPD always get worse, they go from breathing on their own to only a few years later being on oxygen. The fact that Asthma can turn to COPD is a cruel joke, since most with COPD where smokers who damaged their own lungs. I have never been a smoker, but my dad smoked in the home when I was growing up. I feel Asthma is treatable, where as COPD always gets worse, declining your health. So I would be against classifying a person with typical Asthma as COPD.

      1. You are correct in saying that COPD is typically progressive. Some people with asthma also become more severe over time, especially if they're not able to maintain good asthma control. But it's important to remember that all kinds of people can get COPD, including those who have never smoked or quit many years prior to diagnosis, just like with lung cancer. It can be hard to deal with medical complications of someone else's smoking -- like you, I also have never smoked but grew up in a home with a smoker. But COPD is not a smoker's condition, and we never want to attach a stigma to it. Everyone deserves compassion, respect and the same quality of medical treatment, regardless of who they are or the circumstances surrounding their diagnosis.

        As for this topic, I believe and are suggesting that the definition of COPD is beginning to change in some circles, which I think is interesting. I agree with you that they should remain separate -- asthma isn't emphysema or chronic bronchitis!

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, Sarah. -Melissa, team

      2. Thank you for your kind thoughts of compassion. Also, for your clear idea between the differences of asthma and copd.
        Wishes for sunny days and clear K.

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