Did you know that while all asthmatics may not be obese, it is almost true that all obese will develop asthma sometime in their life. On World Asthma Day on Tuesday, experts from all over the world have warned that the pulmonary disease in youngsters is very intimately related to obesity.
Says Dr Vivek Nangia, HOD and director Fortis Lung Centre, Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital, Vasant Kunj and Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, New Delhi, “Asthma may seem like a chronic disease that has been talked about, researched on and written on endlessly. However, the disease still leaves a lot to be written about and lot to be researched further. It is a disease of the lungs where the airways are inflamed and breathing gets hampered due to wheezing resultant from blocked airways. These symptoms are also associated with chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing.”
Experts say that while the disease affects all ages, it mostly starts in early childhood. Several studies have indicated that while increase in weight leads to asthma in youngsters, decrease in weight also leads to improvement in the course of the illness.
Obesity, many experts say, is a singularly responsible factor that reduces the functions of the pulmonary output. It affects the volume and also reduces the diameter of the pulmonary airways. In fact, many pulmonologists include a weight control programme in their obese patients.
Sleep apnea is another side-development that afflicts obese asthmatics. Each disorder is intricately associated with the other and therefore, makes each other worse. According to a study, obesity promotes the development of sleep apnea. Asthma patients are also more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea because excessive daytime sleepiness is a factor that contributes to sleep apnea. Studies also reveal that there is a 72% chance that an obese asthmatic patient will develop sleep apnea.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is another problem that effects patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and sustained systemic inflammation seems to play a central role in this linkage. Asthma is also a chronic inflammatory airway disorder, eliciting a low-grade systemic inflammation.
Men suffering from asthma, according to a study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, may be susceptible to impotence. The study, which was carried out in Taipei, Taiwan, was done on 3466 men aged between 18 to 55 years. The study concluded that asthma could cause erectile dysfunction in men and the risk increased in direct proportion to the severity of asthma. So now the disease can be added to the long list of other medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure etc which can cause men to suffer from erectile dysfunction or impotence.
This is an important development because of the high number of people who suffer from asthma in India, especially worrying is the rise of asthma cases in the major metropolitan cities like New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata primarily due to the increase in vehicular and industrial pollution.
Though it’s still unknown whether the treatment of asthma will reduce the risk of patients from developing erectile dysfunction, it would be prudent for these patients to treat their asthmatic condition as soon as possible.
Sleep disorders are also the most identified reason for a disorder known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). The simplest theory behind OSA is obstruction of the airflow in the upper airways during sleep leading to a low oxygen state in the body. This causes various hormonal and biochemical changes; as a result there is frequent awakening during night and stress on various organs of the body.
So, all in all, low levels of oxygen in the body cause a tendency to fall asleep during the day to day activities.
One of the symptoms of this disorder is frequently waking up during the night and unrefreshing sleep normal or increased time asleep. People suffering from this tend to feel lethargic throughout the day and fall asleep at any given opportunity.
Recent research has shown that it is becoming increasingly common in patients with Bronchial Asthma. Such patients keep experiencing increased symptoms and go on stepping up their treatment not realising that there was an underlying sleep disorder which needs to be treated.