Airway diseases are highly prevalent worldwide; however, the prevalence of these diseases is underestimated. Although these diseases present several common characteristics, they have different clinical outcomes. The differentiation between asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and bronchiectasis in the early stage of disease is extremely important for the adoption of appropriate therapeutic measures. However, because of the high prevalence of these diseases and the common pathophysiological pathways, some patients with different diseases may present with similar symptoms. The objective of this review is to highlight the similarities and differences between these diseases in terms of the risk factors, pathophysiology, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.