Respiratory diseases are increasingly common because of factors such as dust, infections, allergies and even genetic factors. Today, so-called “chronic respiratory diseases” (or CKDs) include asthma, allergic rhinitis and obstructive pulmonary disease, representing one of the greatest health problems worldwide.

Asthma affects about 300 million people worldwide, and Brazil ranks 8th in the ranking, being more common in children.

Data on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD, which represents chronic bronchitis and pulmonary emphysema) show about 7.5 million people with the disease in the country, and that prevalence increases with advancing age.

According to DATASUS, the number of hospital admissions for respiratory diseases is about 120,000 per year, in Brazil alone.

Many people confuse asthma and bronchitis, and although both of them affect the lung, there are some differences between them. Check out:

Asthma

It is caused by inflammation of the airways and the symptoms are:

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing;
  • Tightness in the chest or heavy chest;
  • Ching or wheezing in the chest;
  • Cough.

Symptoms vary throughout the day, appearing in the morning, afternoon or evening, or even during physical activities.

The cause is not yet fully understood, but is believed to be a set of factors ranging from genetic to environmental. There are some agents that can trigger the asthmatic crisis:

  • Mites;
  • Fungi;
  • Pollens;
  • Pets;
  • Cockroach feces;
  • Viral infections;
  • Cigarette smoke;
  • Environment pollution;
  • Exposure to cold air.

The disease has no cure, but there are treatments that help control it: medicines that can prevent crises or drugs that relieve the symptoms of the crisis. Each patient has a different history, and because of this, medical follow-up is required for each patient.

Bronchitis

Bronchitis is COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), a disease that makes it difficult for air to pass through the lungs, causing progressive loss of lung function. The most common symptoms are:

  • Shortness of breath when there is some effort;
  • Cough;
  • Expectoration;
  • Tiredness.

Usually, it affects smokers, and because of this, the best prevention is to avoid smoking – which accounts for 80% of COPD cases.

Some factors may stimulate the onset of its symptoms:

  • Exposure to pollution;
  • Exposure to tobacco;
  • Decompensation of other diseases (such as cardiovascular and thrombo-ecologic ones).

The treatment aims to control symptoms, reduce the impact on daily life, prevent deterioration and slow its progression. In any case, only a doctor can indicate the best treatment for each case.