Obesity Related Lung Disease - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Obesity is when your body weight becomes too high. It is a serious condition, not just because it changes the way you look, but because it affects your body negatively and can result in many different diseases. 


Obesity can affect the lungs also. Studies have found a link between obesity and different lung conditions such as:


  • Obstructive sleep apnea

  • Asthma

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

  • Pulmonary embolism

  • Aspiration pneumonia


Other than these conditions, obesity can also put mechanical pressure on the lungs, making breathing difficult. In this article, we will discuss the above-mentioned pulmonary conditions related to obesity.


Obstructive sleep apnea:


Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep-related breathing disorder in which there is partial or complete breathing cessation during sleep for a brief period. Periods of diminished or absent breathing are known as apnea or apneic episodes. It causes low levels of oxygen to reach the brain and can greatly reduce the quality of sleep and life.  In obstructive sleep apnea, the muscle tone of different muscles of the airway and tongue tend to relax, narrowing the airway and causing breathing cessation during sleep.


The symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:


  • Loud snoring

  • Restless or unrefreshing sleep

  • Daytime sleepiness and drowsiness

  • Confusion

  • Trouble focusing

  • Headache

  • Memory problems


Asthma:


Asthma is the constriction of your bronchioles that occurs due to the response or overactivity of your immune system, due to which you face difficulty in breathing. It is a chronic condition that mostly starts in childhood. At times, it gets better by the time, but it can also worsen as you age. Coping with asthma can be problematic because there is no cure until now. However, with proper management, it can be prevented and controlled.


You may also face difficulty in doing physical exercise, walking, or even talking or eating food. 


The signs and symptoms of asthma are:

 

  • Cough especially at night, during or after exercise, or while laughing 

  • Difficulty breathing 

  • Whistling sounds from the chest known as wheezing 

  • Chest tightness 

  • Fatigue 

  • Anxiousness 


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD):


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is an umbrella term used for a combination of diseases that affect the lungs and cause airflow obstruction.


COPD includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. These two conditions usually co-exist and cause airflow obstruction. Unlike some diseases in which there is trouble getting air into the lungs, in COPD, air can’t be properly expelled out of the lungs. It causes air trapping inside the lungs, which affects normal gas exchange.


The symptoms of COPD include:


  • Chronic cough

  • Cough with lots of mucus

  • Breathlessness, particularly on exertion

  • Wheezing 

  • Chest tightness

  • Frequent respiratory tract infections

  • Fatigue

  • Swollen ankles, feet, or legs

  • Unintentional weight loss


Pulmonary embolism:


Pulmonary embolism refers to the formation of a blood clot in the vessels of the lungs. It is a serious condition that often results in pulmonary hypertension - a condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries of your lungs is raised. When the blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries becomes high, the right side of your heart has to pump harder to push the blood against high pressure. It results in enlargement of the right side of your heart- a condition medically referred to as “Cor Pulmonale”.


Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension may include:


  • Breathlessness on exertion

  • Fatigue

  • Weakness

  • Coughing

  • Breathlessness on lying down

  • Weight gain

  • Swollen ankles, feet, or legs

  • Loss of appetite

  • Bluish lips 


Aspiration pneumonia


Aspiration pneumonia occurs when a person inhales something. It can be saliva, vomit, or any food. Obesity predisposes a person to a higher risk of aspiration pneumonia. 


  • Cough 

  • Shortness of breath

  • Chest pain (during breathing or coughing)

  • Sweating or chills 

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Headache 

  • Green phlegm 

  • Fever

  • Difficulty in breathing

  • Loss of appetite

 

Mechanical pressure on the lungs due to obesity:


The excess fat in obese people can put pressure on the diaphragm, lungs, and chest cavity. It restricts the total amount of air to get into the lungs and can make it harder for you to breathe. You may feel breathless upon minor exertion, such as walking a few steps.


Conclusion:


Obesity is a serious concern. It not only affects the lungs but increases the risk of other diseases too. However, the good news is, you can reverse the harmful effects of obesity by following a proper weight loss routine. Eat healthily and exercise well. Consult your dietician for better help regarding dietary changes. With a proper plan and determination, you can lose weight and start living a healthier lifestyle. 


Doctors For Obesity Related Lung Disease

Dr. Syed Azfer Husain

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Dr. Muhammad Sher Khan

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Dr. Shamshad Rasul Awan

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Dr. Muhammad Iqbal

Pulmonologist

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Dr. Wajahat Nabi

Pulmonologist

32 Years

Dr. Aamir Hassan

Pulmonologist

30 Years

Dr. Atif Mahmood

Pulmonologist

26 Years

Dr. Mohammad Saqib Saeed

Pulmonologist

24 Years

Dr. Muhammad Tayyab Ahmed

Pulmonologist

18 Years

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