It is possible to have both COPD and asthma, and the diseases share several characteristics. Many people with COPD also suffer from asthma, but most people with asthma do not have COPD.
One difference between the two is that asthma sufferers can be nearly free of symptoms between exacerbations with proper treatment. Also, the symptoms of asthma – wheezing, shortness of breath, cough – are usually caused by obvious triggers, such as allergens, cold air, or exercise. Onset of asthma generally occurs in younger non-smokers, while COPD is more often linked to older age and smoking. Airway obstruction with asthma is typically reversible, while people with COPD develop permanent lung damage that progresses over time.