The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Let’s be honest with each other, checking the mail is a relatively easy task for many of us. Now try to imagine that from the view of someone suffering from a chronic lung disease. You get up from the chair and start to walk toward the door. You sense the feelings of shortness of breath and fatigue start to hit you gradually as you reach the door. By the time you open the door, you are exhausted. This is just within the span of getting to the door!
Lung disease is any problem in the lungs or that prevents the lungs from working properly. As you may know, suffering from a chronic lung disease can take a toll on the human body. You start to feel more tired and have to exert more energy throughout the day. More food and nutrients are needed to maintain a stable amount of energy. Thus a common question asked among patients: Is there a connection between weight gain and lung disease?
Weight Gain and Lung Disease: Yes or No?
Believe it or not, the answer is both. If you have lung disease, you are likely to experience breathing problems. Depending on the severity of your breathing problem and how it is treated, different nutritional issues can be experienced. Lung disease can cause some weight to be added over time, but it can also cause a patient to lose weight. Maintaining a healthy body weight is important for people with lung disease. It is also important to try and prevent unintentional weight loss and unwanted weight gain.
Unplanned weight loss affects as many as 40 to 70 percent of lung disease patients. Why? Because patients require more energy just to breathe and need between 430 and 720 calories a day just to keep breathing. An individual without lung disease uses about 100 calories a day expanding and contracting the muscles involved with breathing. Weight loss can be attributed to the increase amount of energy needed to breathe, loss of appetite, medications and even depression.
While a lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), can’t cause weight gain, some medications used to treat COPD, such as steroids, may cause some people to gain weight. Weight gain can result when you are exercising less than you used to, but are still eating the same amount of food. Steroid use can also increase your appetite which can lead to eating more than what your body needs. Water intake can also cause the body to hold the extra fluids that are not being dispersed throughout the body. Eventually, all of this will result in weight gain.
Research from the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that weight loss is a reversible factor in patients that suffered from COPD. After studying 400 patients over an eight week period, researchers found that body weight had an independent effect on patients with COPD. Weight loss and weight gain both each effected patients in a different way.
If you are well nourished, you are more able to fight infections, including chest infections and maintain your strength. Preserving muscle is an important factor in helping your lungs to function. Maintaining a healthy body weight will help achieve this goal. This is why it is a constant struggle for lung disease patients to maintain a healthy diet and not be over/under weight.
If you happen to be suffering from a lung disease and need help maintaining a healthy diet, talk to your doctor or a dietitian for further advice. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with COPD and want to learn more about treatment options, please contact or call (800) 729-3065 today.