inhaler, oxygen tank, and nebulizers

Asthma Equipment vs. COPD Equipment

Last updated: August 2019

Asthma and COPD are similar diseases. They can both be managed with equipment at your home. Some of this equipment is the same for both diseases. Although, some tend to be more common for COPD than for asthma. So, here’s my take on asthma equipment versus COPD equipment.

Metered Dose Inhalers (MDI)

Perhaps one of the greatest medical inventions of all time. They allow you to inhale a metered dose of respiratory medicines. Some inhalers contain rescue medicine, like albuterol (Ventolin, ProAir) and levalbuterol (Xopenex). These are used to reverse symptoms. Other MDIs are controller inhalers meant to prevent, control, or minimize symptoms. There are lots of controller inhalers. Some are used for both diseases. Some are particular to asthma And some are particular to COPD.

Dry Powdered Inhalers (DPI)

These are inhalers that allow you to inhale dry powdered medicine. These are usually controller inhalers used to control symptoms. This type of inhaler is commonly used for both diseases. Good examples are Advair and Broe, two inhalers approved for both asthma and COPD.


These are helpful for both asthma and COPD. They allow for the slow inhalation of rescue medicine. This can prove helpful during asthma attacks and COPD flare-ups. Most asthmatics take controller medicines via MDIs and DPIs. However, some people with severe asthma or COPD may find nebulizers a better method of inhaling controller medicines too.

Nebulizer Air Compressors

These are tiny compressors that create a low flow of air for operating nebulizers. So, many people with both diseases may have these tiny air compressors. Some are tabletop designs. Others are small and portable for ease of use regardless of where you need them.

Nasal Cannula

Most people with asthma do not require supplemental oxygen. Although, there are a few exceptions. Many people with COPD require supplemental oxygen. The most common mode of inhaling supplemental oxygen is by using a nasal cannula. They consist of tubing connected to two prongs that fit into your nares. The opposite end of the nasal cannula tubing is connected to an oxygen concentrator or oxygen tanks. Most people with asthma and COPD who require oxygen only need a low flow, and this is easily supplied by nasal cannulas.

Oxygen tubing

If you have a nebulizer you will need this. It’s necessary to connect the nebulizer to the air compressor. Those who require home oxygen may also require extra oxygen tubing to connect to their nasal cannulas. This creates a longer leash, or sorts, to allow people using them to move around further from the concentrator or tank. It helps them stay more active.

Oxygen tanks

If you require supplemental oxygen you will probably require oxygen tanks. There are larger tanks that can be stored at your home as back ups in case the power goes out and your concentrator stops working. There are also smaller tanks that can be placed on small carts and are portable. They are useful when you want to stay active.

Oxygen Concentrators

Most people who require supplemental oxygen require these. They are moderately sized machines that make oxygen from room air in your home. They are nice because you don’t need tanks to get your supply of oxygen. (You may still need tanks as backups, though). Larger concentrators supply oxygen for you at your home. Smaller concentrators are portable and allow you to inhale oxygen anywhere you go.

BiPAP/ CPAP machines

There may be a few asthmatics who require these. But, mostly they are only used by some people with COPD. They supply low pressure when you inhale or exhale or both. These machines are usually only used while you are sleeping. They assure that your airway stays patent when your sleeping. They also make sure you take in a deep enough breath while you’re sleeping. They assure your breathing stays easy while you're sleeping so you feel better while you're awake. One of these machines is helpful for many people with COPD.

What to make of this?

So, this is just a sample of some of the equipment used by asthma and COPD patients.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

More on this topic

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.

Community Poll

Which allergies do you live with? (Select all that apply)