Does obesity make asthma worse?

Does obesity make asthma worse?

Last Reviewed : 12/30/2020
Does obesity make asthma worse?

Asthma is characterized by reversible inflammation of airways with bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airway obstruction being its two major components. Many patients with asthma present with cough, wheeze, and shortness of breath. The prevalence of asthma has been increasing worldwide, with an estimate of 300 million people being affected. It is common in individuals of all ages, gender, and racial groups. However, it is more prevalent in children when compared to others.



Prevalence of Obesity

On the other hand, obesity has been increasing in prevalence. It causes a variety of health-related complications. Well, it increases the risk of diabetes, heart diseases, and other chronic inflammatory disorders. It is a major health problem, and it is associated with a higher incidence of asthma and poor asthma control. Body mass index (BMI) is used to determine if an individual is overweight or obese. Body mass index is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by square of height in meters. A range of BMIs for a healthy weight is anywhere between 18.5 and 24.9.

What’s more, a person is considered overweight if his BMI is above 25 while a person is obese when his BMI value is more than 30. These numbers are for adults. In children, overweight is when BMI is between 85th and 94th percentile for age and gender. In a similar vein, obesity is when BMI is at or above the 95th percentile for age and gender. The increased prevalence of obesity is observed both in adults and children. There are also racial and ethnic influences related to obesity prevalence.



Obesity and Asthma: Relevant Studies

A study found out that the prevalence of obesity increased more in people with asthma than those without asthma. Another study showed a similar association between the prevalence of obesity and the severity of asthma. Obese asthmatics are at increased risk of exacerbations, which may require hospitalizations. They also have a different response to conventional asthma treatment. A similar association was found in the pediatric population.

Obesity is a risk factor for asthma, and gender equally plays an important role. Female gender is associated with an increased risk of both obesity and asthma. On the other hand, quality of life is poor in obese asthmatics. The pathogenesis of asthma in obese is associated with factors like mechanical factors and altered immune and inflammatory responses due to obesity. Asthma is characterized by airway hyperresponsiveness, increased mucus production, obstruction, and airway remodeling. Pathology of asthma involves various inflammatory cells and mediators. Adipocytes produce serval cytokines and adipokines, which cause adverse effects on the airways. The mechanism by which these mediators lead to airway changes is still not clearly understood.

Obesity causes restrictive changes in the lungs. It also causes decreased lung expansion due to the restricted chest wall movement and flattening of diaphragm because of abdominal fat. So, as a result, obesity leads to decreased tidal volumes. These are just theories as nothing has been proven yet regarding the association between obesity and asthma. One theory suggests that asthma causes obesity, as people with asthma restrict their activities to decrease their asthma symptoms. This, in turn, makes them lead a sedentary lifestyle, which increases the risk of obesity.


Wrapping Up

Although the connection between obesity and asthma is still not clear, it is better to try reducing weight. It is always advantageous to decrease weight. Still, it must be difficult for a patient with asthma to exercise to reduce weight. More so, it may be a challenging process to go through. Reducing weight can be achieved by following a healthy diet and avoiding foods with high-fat content. Mild, tolerable exercises can also be practiced daily to reduce obesity.


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