Are you tired of feeling like you’re constantly carrying a bowling ball on your chest every time you have an asthma attack? Well, it might be time to put down the pizza and pick up some veggies! Studies have shown a clear link between obesity and asthma, with excess weight putting extra pressure on the lungs and exacerbating symptoms. But fear not, with a balanced diet, regular exercise and medical interventions (if necessary), you can manage your weight and breathe easier. This World Asthma Day, let us understand the link between obesity and asthma.

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the airways, leading to shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing. While asthma is a complex disease with multiple risk factors, studies have shown a clear association between obesity and asthma.

asthma and obesity
Got asthma? You will have to keep your weight in check. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How is obesity linked with asthma?

According to Dr Aman Priya Khanna, Bariatric Surgeon, HexaHealth, obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, can increase the risk of asthma by up to 92 percent. This is due to the excess weight putting additional pressure on the lungs, making it harder to breathe, particularly for those with pre-existing respiratory issues such as asthma.

Research has shown that obesity-related inflammation can also trigger and worsen asthma symptoms. Adipose tissue, or fat, produces a range of inflammatory molecules that can promote airway inflammation and mucus production, exacerbating asthma symptoms.

Furthermore, obesity can decrease lung function, leading to reduced oxygen intake and increased carbon dioxide retention. This can make asthma attacks more severe and increase the risk of hospitalization. Therefore, weight management is crucial for individuals with asthma, particularly those who are overweight or obese.

obesity and asthma
Being obese might affect your lungs and lead to asthma. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

How to manage obesity related asthma?

Here are some ways to manage obesity related asthma as advised by Dr Khanna:

1. Regular exercise

Regular physical activity can not only help in weight loss but also improve lung function and overall health. A structured exercise program tailored to the individual’s needs and fitness level can improve overall health and help manage asthma symptoms.

2. Balanced diet

Maintaining a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can support healthy weight management and reduce inflammation in the body. It is also essential to avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and high-fat meals, which can contribute to weight gain and worsen asthma symptoms.

3. Surgery

“In some cases, weight loss procedures such as gastric ballooning or laparoscopic gastric banding may be appropriate for individuals struggling to lose weight through diet and exercise alone,” says Dr Khanna. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the best approach for each individual case.

4. Take precautions

It is also crucial for individuals with asthma to take preventive measures to avoid triggers that can worsen symptoms, such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, and allergens.

smoking and asthma
Cigarette smoke isn’t what your lungs want. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Managing weight through lifestyle changes and, if necessary, medical interventions can improve lung function and reduce the risk of asthma exacerbation. It is essential to work with a healthcare provider to develop a comprehensive plan for managing asthma and weight loss strategies.

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