The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) is now providing updated resources, including a booklet and brochure, focusing on the differences and similarities between asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The booklet, "COPD and Asthma: Differential Diagnosis," was released for physicians, which contained information on the, “diagnostic differences between COPD and asthma, how to help patients self-manage their illness, and the importance of short- and long-term monitoring. It also provides guidance on how to maximize lung function and manage exacerbations and airflow limitations.”
The booklet highlights some of the more prominent differences in between COPD and asthma including:
- Asthma on-set occurance before the age of 20, while COPD on-set occurs after 40,
- Asthma symptoms generally vary over time, while COPD symptoms often persist with treatment,
- Asthma symptoms improve with bronchodilator treatment, while COPD symptoms may not respond to bronchodilator treatment.
The patient education handout, "COPD and Asthma: What You Need to Know", includes the definition of COPD and asthma. The handout also contains information about common symptoms and treatment options.
Both the booklet and brochure were sent to, “AAFP members and internal medicine physicians who subspecialize in pulmonology in the 14 states that have the highest prevalence of COPD.”
Clare Hawkins, a physician who helped develop the materials, explained, “The number of people who get ill and (are) hospitalized makes this a big public health priority, especially in disadvantaged populations.”
Both COPD and asthma are greatly impacting the health of Americans and may be underdiagnosed. Both conditions also appear alike, due to the symptoms.
“COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Lung Association. An estimated 12.7 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, and 24 million U.S. adults have evidence of impaired lung function.”
Asthma is also a growing condition in the U.S., with 22.5 million Americans diagnosed. “The condition is responsible for nearly 440,000 hospitalizations, 1.8 million emergency department visits and 14.2 million physician office visits.”
The AAFP’s physician resources should aid physicians in selecting the best treatments for patients on an individual basis and focus on smoking cessation.