1. Lose weight. At least one study suggests you’ll need to lose at least 10 percent of your body weight to see much improvement in your asthma, but other research noted results with a 5 percent loss. People who drop lots of pounds after bariatric surgery often find asthma relief. Their experience has been backed up by research testing measures of inflammation, allergic “mast” cells, and airway function before and after the surgery. In fact, in one study, a year after the surgery, patients with asthma had similar airway function to those who didn’t.
Exercise helps reduce airway reactivity in obese asthmatics, but is most effective combined with weight loss.
2. Avoid allergy triggers. There may be two kinds of asthma in the obese — one linked to the weight and another tied to allergies. Even if you lose weight, if you had asthma under the age of 12, research indicates that you’ll probably need to treat the allergies and avoid triggers as well.
An allergic response to any trigger – cat dander is a common example – will inflame your airways, adding to the chronic inflammation tied to obesity and making your airway more reactive. If you have a reaction like a stuffy nose or irritated airway after exposure to a pet, your best bet is to stay away from that animal.
To be sure, get tested for pet allergies. If you must keep a pet, keep it out of the bedroom and keep the door closed; keep the pet off upholstered furniture and carpets; wash the pet weekly; and run high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to capture airborne allergens. Remember that chronic exposure is likely to make your allergies worse over time.
October 26, 2017
Janet O’Dell, RN