Can asthma develope into copd? - Asthma UK communi...

Asthma UK community forum

18,138 members22,434 posts

Can asthma develope into copd?

prior to my asthma appointment i spoke to a friend who said that uncontrolled asthma can develope into copd. is there any truth in that?

17 Replies

I would say yes to that as my husband has had asthma for over 25 years and was diagnosed with COPD last year because his asthma was just not being controlled anymore. Our GP did some basic spirometer tests and his lung age came back as 89 (he's 55). So far it is being sort of controlled by Spiriva (sp), Seretide and Ventolin but he has been warned that at some point he may well need to go on some other steroids and may evenutally end up with needing some sort of oxygen supply at home.

The worst effect for him has been the tendancy towards pneumonia which can come on very quickly.

We are very much in the early stages of this element of his health and have a lot to learn.

At somepoint i have asked this question on the boards and was told no it couldnt as asthma is variable so your symptoms change on a day to day basis and COPD is a gradually worsening of your lungs condition. I would be interested to know the answer though.


The answer to your question itself is ""yes"", but it's a bit more complicated than that.

Theoretically, uncontrolled, untreated airways inflammation of moderate to severe intensity over many years can lead to permanent changes in the airways, such that part of the airways obstruction becomes fixed - however, there may still be a reversible component. Fixed airways obstruction is part of the definition of COPD, whereas full reversibility is more diagnostic of asthma.

However, with improved diagnosis and treatment of asthma nowadays, this scenario is really pretty uncommon.

elaineFL profile image
elaineFL in reply to

I don't quite understand your answer, I don't consider my asthma uncontrolled. I don't have asthma attacks, I just have breathlessness and wheezing often & a chronic cough since 2015. I still take my preventer as I always have done for about 50 years, it's just that the breathing is more difficult now. so Dr. called it COPD. Why would it just suddenly change after all these years.

elaineFL profile image
elaineFL in reply to

I have never smoked and I have been on different asthma preventers over the years.

its an interesting and scary concept as my asthma symptoms have changed so much and its taking a lot longer to get in control and the symptoms are developing more month by month.

The important thing to stress, Confused, is that we're talking 30-40 years, not months, so try not to worry :)

good point cathbear..

thats me time to try and reverse this...asthma take over...

I also would say yes as both my mother and father-in-law have both in the past year been diagnosed with COPD. My father-in-law has had asthma for over 20 years and my mother has had asthma for the last 20 years that I can remember.

my mothers asthma turned into COPD but the fact that she smoked 20 a day (silly woman) greatly contributed to that.

Much like Wanda's experience, my mum had asthma but now it is COPD, but this is because of her smoking for about 40 years. She is a lot better now she was forced to quit because of hardly being able to breathe!

I on the other hand have horrible asthma like symptoms whenever I am exposed to cig smoke, mostly non-stop coughing and lots of phlegm for ages, but I cannot get a diagnosis of asthma or anything else and have had to struggle on. I blame all the passive smoking during my childhood for this smoke sensitivity, which may or may not be asthma. I have always had a major problem with smoke and got ill all the time as a child with chest infections and still my mother would not quit for me, even though I always told her from a very early age that she was making me ill with her smoking.

I knew why I was always ill even though the dr didn't (I had more intelligence it seems..)

should point out that treatments have changed over the years, so how relevant this is with todays drugs only time will tell. I know one section seems to suggest that it makes no difference, but further trials and data are needed to confirm or deny the link.

Confused and anyone else worried, read this. (remove space between d and whn)

similar style article

Was at surgery today with my son (another chest infection) and he picked up and showed me a health leaflet on COPD (he saw something about breathlessness on the front). I read it with interest remembering this thread. There was no mention of asthma and it said the cause of COPD is long term smoking.

why do people smoke i dont understand it...its like the most stupid thing to do it does lead to COPD and Cancer.

there is so many variations in asthma, how do you draw the line when nearly all inhalers treat both?

Its like my asthma is out of control at the moment how do i or anyone identify that i've crossed the line and headed into COPD?

Unless you happen to be a smoker for a number of years then the likely hood of developing COPD is low.

hi woody,

no chance of that the smell of cigarette smoke is like a confused repellant..

nasty habit..

You may also like...