Asthma and emphysema are two entirely different diseases with some symptoms in common. Asthma is a spastic and inflammatory disease of the airways that causes reversible obstruction of the bronchial tubes. It usually responds to treatment.
Emphysema is a disease of the lung tissue, especially the alveoli (air sacs) at the end of the bronchial tubes. Emphysema results from destruction of these alveoli. This process is not reversible and responds less well to medical treatment. Emphysema is slowly progressive; you will get short of breath and become more disabled as time goes on. Eventually you may require continuous concentrated oxygen to be comfortable. This irreversible disease (and other obstructive lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis) is often referred to as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness or pain
- Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
- A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling (wheezing is a common sign of asthma in children)
- Coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a respiratory virus, such as a cold or the flu
- Asthma signs and symptoms that are more frequent and bothersome
- Increasing difficulty breathing (measurable with a peak flow meter, a device used to check how well your lungs are working)
- The need to use a quick-relief inhaler more often