Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.

Asthma & COPD

Rhode Island Medicine

Internal Medicine located in Woonsocket, RI & Pawtucket, RI

Asthma and COPD can severely reduce your quality of life when not well-managed. If you suffer from respiratory issues, trust skilled internist Irfan Ahmad, MD, and the experienced team at Rhode Island Medicine to offer holistic, integrated care that helps you find relief and breathe more easily. Call the Woonsocket or Pawtucket, Rhode Island, offices to set up an appointment or use the online tool to book.

Asthma & COPD Q & A

What are asthma and COPD?

Two of the most common problems that affect the respiratory system are asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 


Asthma affects people of all ages and is often triggered by allergies or exercise. If you have asthma, you experience swelling and narrowing of the airway and extra mucus that makes breathing difficult. Asthma often develops at birth or in childhood. 


If you can’t get an adequate air supply to reach your lungs, you may have COPD. COPD develops primarily as a result of chronic, long-term exposure to cigarette smoke, toxic fumes, or pollutants over an extended period of time. 

Both conditions are chronic and do not have a cure, but their symptoms can be effectively managed so you’re more comfortable and live a relatively normal life. At Rhode Island Medicine, we help you minimize flare-ups and improve your overall well-being.

What are the symptoms of asthma?

Asthma symptoms vary according to the person. You may just have mild symptoms on occasion or experience serious symptoms most of the time. 

Asthma symptoms typically include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Whistling or wheezing sounds
  • Chest pain and tightness
  • Coughing

Seasonal allergies, triggers (like pet dander), and physical exercise can cause these symptoms to escalate.

What are the symptoms of COPD?

COPD develops slowly, so you may not notice the symptoms at first. Over time, COPD causes you:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing during physical activity
  • To clear your throat throughout the day
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Swelling in your legs and ankles

As COPD progresses, you might also experience the development of a blue color to your lips and significant weight loss.

How are asthma and COPD diagnosed?

If you come to Rhode Island Medicine with respiratory complaints, Dr. Ahmad and the team do a thorough review of your personal and family medical history. They’ll ask about your symptoms, your environment, lifestyle, and any allergies or smoke exposure you may have experienced. 

You’ll also participate in a series of pulmonary function tests: 


Spirometry evaluates your bronchial tubes and notes the degree to which they narrow by measuring your exhalation. 

Peak flow test

This test measures how quickly you exhale. Consistently low peak flow readings indicate a problem with lung function.

X-rays, MRI, and laboratory tests may also be ordered to rule out other conditions affecting your respiratory system. 

How are asthma and COPD treated?

Your treatment is customized to your specific diagnosis and the severity of your symptoms. Some of the first steps recommended to help alleviate respiratory symptoms are lifestyle changes like avoiding triggers and quitting smoking. 

You may also benefit from pulmonary rehabilitation and prescription medications, including a quick-relief inhaler. 

Schedule your asthma and COPD care with Rhode Island Medicine by calling one of the locations or using the online portal.