Links Between Obesity And Asthma

Asthma is aggravated by several factors. Obesity is also one of them, though the effect of obesity is not directly correlated with probability or severity of asthma. Yet, the empirical evidence indicates that obese patients tend to suffer from asthmatic attacks that are relatively more serious than those with controlled weight. Thus controlling weight should always be on the agenda of any asthma patients with higher than normal weight.
Links between Obesity and Asthma
Source - Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AObesity_%26_BMI.png)

The relationship between obesity and asthma is not absolutely clear, but on the basis of available research and evidence, there appear to be a positive correlation between obesity and the severity of asthma symptoms. Thus, weight loss can be an important tool in managing asthma. It also suggests that overall body fitness is important in fight against specific diseases.

 

Evidence Linking Obesity and Severity of Asthma

Though the relationship between obesity is still not fully understood, we now have enough evidence to conclusively say that obesity worsens asthma.

In recent times, some major researches and studies have shown that the presence of obesity

in asthmatic patients worsens their symptoms while reducing weight tends to bring some relief. This is not a totally new revelation. Statistics show that almost three fourth of all asthma patients that need emergency hospitalization are obese. However, due to a lack of clear understanding, obesity was not considered a predisposing factor for asthma.

Physiological Correlation between Asthma and Obesity

Now, we are beginning to get more clues as to how obesity might be impacting asthma. One of them is through the mechanical impact of obesity on lung volumes. The pressure of excess fat makes it difficult for lungs to expand fully. As a result, the severely obese often tend to breathe more frequently, with lesser tidal volume of air. This increased effort of breathing makes them particularly vulnerable to the obstruction of airways as happens in asthma. Hence, in a case of strong attack of asthma, obese become more deficient of oxygen and require hospitalization more frequently.

Simultaneously, other aspects of asthma


and obesity are also coming to light. It has been observed that obese persons have a higher concentration of ‘leptin’. Asthmatic obese children have been observed to be having higher concentration of this substance than their peers. Leptin and other substances produced by fat tissue in the body like adiponectin and plasminogen activator-inhibitor sensitize the airways to allergens, thereby making obese people vulnerable to asthma.

Pioneering work in this regard is under way in Harvard School of Public Health. This is what the co-author of this study, Jeffrey Fredberg, has to say, "Obesity has the capacity to impact lung function in a variety of ways. None of them are good and all of them are poorly understood. More research is needed to explain the relationship between asthma and obesity."

One can observe that the impact of obesity on asthma is adverse, and the combination of the two makes life more miserable. However, it is still too early to say that obesity predisposes to asthma in the same way it predisposes to heart diseases and diabetes. For that we will need a better understanding of asthma and obesity both, and require adequate scientific evidence. In spite of this limitation, the physicians are already advising their asthma patients to also take care of their obesity, in order to keep things under control.
 



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