Can extra weight cause asthma to worsen

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Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 1257
   Posted 8/10/2008 9:06 PM (GMT -6)   
I have a weight problem- basically I am overweight.  I have been dieting and have lost 40 lbs but still have about another 45 to go.  My asthma has really gotten out of control this summer. I went to a pulmonary specialist and had all kinds of lung function tests.  After all that and all the money it cost to have the tests he says my problem with breathing is that I am overweight.  I told him I have lost 40 lbs. but he says he can't find any other reason and it must be my diaphram pushing against my lungs so I don't have full long capacity.  Well, how come when I had the 40 exta lbs I didn't have this problem?  I have also had radiation therapy for breast cancer and the person who administered my tests asked me if I had radiation because some of the numbers on my tests showed that.  She said that sometimes when you have radiation it can hit other organs and damage the tissue and that I could have lost lung function for that reason.  The dr. was rather short and curt with me, making it seem like it's all in my head but I am wheezing every day and have to use 2 inhalers every day.  I also have to go to a cardiologist as my EKG had changed. My PCP said the breathing problems could be related to a heart problem.  Of course that really scares me but I have to find out why I am having so much trouble breathing.  I only used to get asthma when I had a cold. Now I have it all the time.  Any answers would be very much appreciated or suggestions on what I could do.  Maybe I need a different inhaler or a machine that filters the air like a hepa filter.  Please reply. Thanks

Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 8/10/2008 10:15 PM (GMT -6)   


Congrats on the 40 lb loss.............whooooooooo hoooooooo. :-)

While obesity definitely contributes to shortness of breath in asthmatics, and that asthma control improves with weight loss, it has not been proven for  sure whether obesity directly causes asthma. And there are some scientists who believe that people who are obese are at greater risk for worse swelling and inflammation in the bronchi (windpipes). It sems to be a subject that does not  have definitive proof and your physician could be right, your asthma flairs can easily be caused by other medical problems.

I think your weight loss goal is still a great one as extra weight is not good for your general overall good health.





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Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 4415
   Posted 8/10/2008 11:29 PM (GMT -6)   
You might want to consult an Allergy specialist if you haven't done so already. It is possible to develop new allergies at any time, and since you mention summer worstening, I'd suspect a pollen allergy of some kind that may be causing or contributing to your troubles. Yes, I also agree other health issues can cause shortness of breath/wheezy feelings. Also, make sure you aren't cutting out nutrition vital to good health during your weight loss program - anemia, for example, can also cause shortness of breath very similar to asthma but can usually be corrected with proper nutrition (iron, folic acid, vitamin B12 ~ all 3 of these nutrients are needed for red blood cell formation; it is recommended that a person get these 3 nutrients tested before starting supplements, especially iron, to avoid overdose or waste $ on something not needed).

Congrats on the weight loss too :)

Good luck,
Gluten & Sulfite Sensitivity, Many Food/Inhalant/Medication Allergies & Intolerances, Asthma, Gut issues (dysmotility, non-specific inflammation), UCTD (Lupus?), Osteoporosis, Anemia,  Lymphopenia, chronic malabsorption/malnutrition, Lyme Disease (Igenex Lab IgM WesternBlot positive; & as of 7/25/08, IgM is CDC Positive!), etc.; Currently TPN-dependent.
Meds:  Zofran, Vitamin B12 Shots, Heparin (to flush PICC line).

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2004
Total Posts : 1539
   Posted 8/11/2008 9:22 AM (GMT -6)   
Carrying extra weight can definately cause breathing problems. I lost 50 lbs & feel ever so much better & is easier getting around too.........


Joan M
Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2006
Total Posts : 2052
   Posted Today 10:07 AM (GMT -6)   
congrats on the weight loss...all good ideas here to check for anemia and see an allergist. i would dump doctor curt...these are things he should have suggested!

New Member

Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 8/18/2008 7:55 AM (GMT -6)   
Congrats on loosing 40lbs! That is going to make you healthier in many ways. You said you only have 45lbs to go...does that mean you are only 45lbs overweight now?

Reason I ask is because I am about 40lbs overweight and my doc told me that was not enough to effect my asthma condition.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 1257
   Posted 8/19/2008 3:22 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Dploy, yes I do have about another 40 lbs. to lose. The problem with asthma and weight is that your body and organs can shift so even with weight loss it can affect your breathing.  Who would have thought that 40 lbs heavier I wouldn't have had these breathing problems but my PCP said your organs can shift causing pressure on the lungs and so you don't fully expand to get enough air.  I am on a real crusade to lose my weight as I haven't been able to breathe well for almost 6 weeks.  My dr. says to stay on my inhalers and next week I have my heart tests (nuclear stress test and echocardiogram) and we will see if my breathing problems are both heart and lungs.  I am nervous but have to just take it one day at a time.  Meanwhile life is so boring as I hardly ever go out since I can't breathe well and I am tired of reading and TV.  Even my needlepoint is getting boring.  Have to have a growth removed from my uterus but all is on hold until they find out what is the cause for wheezing.  I just want to be normal again.  And I am so mad at myself for gaining so much weight but I took care of my very abusive mother for 10 yrs since she was ill and it caused me so much stress that I just turned to food for comfort.  Don't we all wish we had hind sight.
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