Obesity- One of the Major Causes of Breathlessness

Obesity is defined as a condition of excess accumulation of fat in body and is accompanied by several negative impacts on health resulting in reduced life expectancy and mounting health problems.

The determinant factor to consider a person obese is when their Body Mass Index (BMI) exceeds 30kg/m2 . The cause of obesity is a combination of lack of exercise, excessive intake of food, genetic susceptibility and side-effects of medications and various disorders.

Maintaining a healthy diet chart and regular physical exercise are the mainstream and effective ways to curb obesity, otherwise you may have to adopt surgical procedures such as liposuction to bring your weight under control.

As mentioned earlier, obesity occurs in conjunction with various diseases like cardiovascular disorders, obstructive sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes etc. Breathlessness being one of the side-effects of obesity also happens to be a major problem.

This article explains to you the relationship between obesity and breathlessness, so that if you are suffering from the same breathing discomfort, you can seek further treatment immediately.


What is Breathlessness?

Breathlessness gives rise to a symptom called dyspnea which depicts disordered or inadequate breathing. The causes of breathlessness are asthma, congestive heart failure, pneumonia, cardiac ischemia and obesity.

Relation between Obesity and Breathlessness

It has been observed that the basal metabolic rate and hence the rate of total body oxygen consumption increases as the body weight increases.

A small proportion of the consumed oxygen is contributed to the work of respiratory muscles which is reported to have very low magnitude in non-obese healthy individuals at rest. However, it has strikingly increased magnitude in obese patients indicating that oxygen consumption due to functioning of respiratory muscles is high in obese individuals.

Also, there is a significant reduction in functional residual capacity (FRC) which is a consequence of diaphragm being pushed by abdominal contents. This also results in the reduction of Expiratory Reserve Volume (ERV) which also brings about reduction in ventilation at the lung bases

If you tend to climb stairs or perform any work against gravity, even a little increase in weight can initiate breathlessness. This is more important for asthma patients, and their slight increase in weight can result in elevated breathlessness.

Airway obstruction and obesity play a major role, synergistically and hence develops dyspnea and breathlessness

Obesity also involves stiffness of total respiratory system which is due to a combined effect on lung and chest wall compliance. Lung compliance is exponentially related to BMI and its decline is observed in obese individuals.

Hence, although sometimes breathlessness may be easily attributed to obesity, if you realize the feeling of dyspnea or discomfort, consult with your physician for the source and seek treatment immediately.

Photo Credit By: mirror.co.uk