WHAT IS ACO?
Asthma-COPD Overlap (ACO) is a diagnosis of both Asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). Asthma and COPD are two separate conditions, and having one does not mean you will have the other. Asthma is a condition characterized by swelling and inflammation in the airways that make breathing difficult. COPD is a chronic lung disease that interferes with your ability to breathe. Because both conditions have similar symptoms, you may not realize that you have both. If you are a smoker with Asthma and develop non-fully reversible airflow obstruction, you may also have COPD.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Symptoms, including difficulty breathing, frequent coughing and wheezing, excess phlegm and fatigue, are usually indicative of Asthma. Should you experience more severe symptoms, including persistent coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath, or you notice the color, thickness or amount of mucus has increased, you may have COPD as well.
HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?
Since the symptoms are similar for both Asthma and COPD, if you have one condition, you should be tested for the other. Having both could change your treatment options. Your Gateway Asthma & Allergy Relief doctor will review your medical history and do a physical exam. You may have a lung function test using a spirometer that measures the total amount of air going in and out of your lungs before and after using a bronchodilator. A chest X-ray or CT scan may be needed to provide images of your lungs. You may also be tested for the presence of eosinophils in your airways or your peripheral blood.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS?
Should it be determined that you have ACO, your Gateway Asthma & Allergy Relief doctor may suggest lifestyle changes and prescribe medications to reduce symptoms. For severe symptoms, you may require supplemental oxygen or pulmonary (lung) rehabilitation. COPD is a progressive lung disease that worsens over time. Asthma can be reversible if treated correctly. Early diagnosis and treatment of both are critical. Your doctor will answer any questions and discuss with you the best treatment options for your specific needs.