Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) both have in common disorders such as shortness of breath, coughing, fatigue and continuous nocturnal awakenings. Professor Giorgio Walter Canonica, Head of the Personalized Medicine Centre: Asthma and Allergology of Humanitas, spoke about this topic in an interview with Life – Obiettivo Benessere on Rai Radio 1.

Asthma and COPD are two important respiratory diseases that are very often overlooked because they are underestimated: “Unfortunately, many patients do not go to the centers to receive a diagnosis that is as correct as possible. For example, spirometry, the breath test, is normally performed even five years after the patient is diagnosed. This is unfortunately the situation we are facing today”, underlined Professor Canonica, who also reiterated the importance of constant and accurate information on these diseases.


Treating the disease continuously, not the symptom

There are still too many patients who do not follow treatment on a continuous and regular basis: “This is a major problem and it is one of the reasons why we continue to run information campaigns that also include free respiratory checks. Today, the ministerial data on adherence to treatment tell us that only 13.8% of patients diagnosed with asthma and COPD follow the therapy correctly,” stressed Professor Canonica.

“Asthma and COPD are chronic inflammatory diseases and as such require treatment, not just treating their symptoms. This means that therapy must be constant. It has been shown that if a patient is not cured and continues to have attacks, his respiratory function decreases by far compared to physiological functional decay. Therefore, there is a goal that requires to prevent symptoms with a proper cure of the disease,” continued the specialist.


Personalized medicine

“Once, a drug was good for the specific disease. Today, however, we are talking about personalized therapy: when you choose a pharmacological treatment, you are dealing, for example, with a series of inhalers. However, you don’t just have to choose the right drug (or combination of drugs) for the individual patient, you also need to know which inhaler is best for the patient and make sure you use it correctly. The patient must be guided in the therapy, all the more so with the new biological therapies, which require an in-depth study of the mechanisms of the pathology in the individual patient.

It is also important to have a healthy and correct lifestyle, including a cessation of smoking and regular physical exercise, by consulting your doctor. An appropriate treatment of the pathology makes it possible to carry out a normal sporting activity.

It is therefore essential to consult the specialist for the correct diagnosis, to follow the therapy constantly and scrupulously and to undergo the controls at the indicated frequency, in order to guarantee a good quality of life”, concluded Professor Canonica.