Difference Between Asthma and Emphysema


Even though asthma and emphysema both deal with breathing related issues, they are two completely different disorders that must be treated as such. The causes of asthma and the causes of emphysema are not the same, nor is their potential course of treatment. Depending on the severity of each condition, you will need to seek immediate medical attention for both.


One of the reasons that they are confused with one another is because they have a number of symptoms in common. Both of these disorders are associated with a lack of breath. However, asthma is a disease that can become problematic for the sufferer as early as childhood. It is spastic, as well as inflammatory, and causes obstruction inside of the bronchial tubes.

While this may lead some to believe that the person simply has weak lungs, this is not the case and asthma typically responds very well to medical treatment. Many asthma sufferers are able to keep their symptoms under control by seeking the proper treatment and also making certain lifestyle adjustments, such as no smoking or drinking.

Emphysema is also a disease, but it is one that usually develops later in life, as a result of lifestyle choices that lead to the destruction of pivotal areas of the bronchial tubes. When the air sacs at the end of a person’s bronchial tubes are no longer functioning at peak capacity, this is not reversible and there is no treatment that can successfully restore them.


Asthma being treatable is the most important difference between these two diseases. A person with asthma can still lead a normal life, whereas a person who has been diagnosed with emphysema cannot. Emphysema is not something that will respond well to any form of treatment and the condition only becomes worse as time goes on.

Emphysema sufferers may even eventually require doses of highly concentrated oxygen in order to continue breathing in a comfortable manner. The disease is not able to be cured and is typically caused by the continuous smoking of cigarettes over a lengthy period of time. While patients can suffer from both diseases simultaneously, asthma’s symptoms are often reduced or even eliminated by rigorous treatment methods, whereas emphysema’s can only be slightly lessened.

However, there are some individuals with asthma who develop a more severe form of the disease that is comparable with emphysema. This happens when the bronchi become irreversibly obstructed.

Should a person experience any sort of difficulty when it comes to breathing, they are advised to seek medical attention from a licensed professional immediately. Asthma’s symptoms can be eradicated with the proper course of treatment and those who are suffering from emphysema often require a great deal of assistance just to maintain a normal breathing pattern.