Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are significant public health burdens. Specific methods of detection, intervention, and treatment exist that may reduce this burden and promote health.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways characterized by episodes of reversible breathing problems due to airway narrowing and obstruction. These episodes can range in severity from mild to life threatening. Symptoms of asthma include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Daily preventive treatment can prevent symptoms and attacks and enable individuals who have asthma to lead active lives.
COPD is a preventable and treatable disease characterized by airflow limitation that is not fully reversible. The airflow limitation is usually progressive and associated with an abnormal inflammatory response of the lungs to noxious particles or gases (typically from exposure to cigarette smoke) Treatment can lessen symptoms and improve quality of life for those with COPD.
Several additional respiratory conditions and respiratory hazards, including infectious agents and occupational and environmental exposures, are covered in other areas of Healthy People 2020. Examples include tuberculosis, lung cancer, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), pneumonia, occupational lung disease, and smoking. Sleep Health is now a separate topic area of Healthy People 2020.