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Why Does Obesity Cause Shortness Of Breath?

As a medical problem, obesity-related shortness of breath is known as obesity hypoventilation syndrome. Pickwickian syndrome is another name for this condition. It has many similarities with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, which you may already be aware of.

Many people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea also have Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome; however, it is possible to have only one of these conditions without the other. A previous diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea greatly increases your likelihood of developing obesity hypoventilation syndrome.

Why does obesity cause shortness of breath

Is shortness of breath normal?

Not everyone who has difficulty breathing has a severe medical condition. Breathlessness during exercise or after that is frequent. When engaging in endurance activities, walking, cardio exercises, etc., it is natural to experience shortness of breath. More oxygen is required for the muscles to function during exercise.

Oxygen is filtered and distributed through the nose and lungs before entering the bloodstream. Then, the heart pumps the blood, delivering oxygen to the body’s muscles. When you’re short of breath, your heart and lungs have to work so hard.

How do I know if I’m overweight?

Most experts agree that a person’s body mass index (BMI) is the most reliable indicator of whether or not they are overweight. Regarding body mass index, CDC says that anything between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy.

A BMI between 25.0 and 29.9 is considered overweight, whereas a BMI of 30 or above is considered obese.


Some of the medical issues that might result in persistent shortness of breath are:

  • Asthma
  • Lung Disease
  • Heart Failure
  • Obesity 
  • Poor Fitness

Acute (lasting less than a week) breathlessness may be brought on by the following:

  • Allergies
  • Anxiety 
  • Choking
  • Pulmonary Embolism
  • Heart Attack
  • Infection
  • Injury
  • Medications
  • Extreme Temperatures

How Obesity Causes Shortness of Breath

Extra weight is most obviously seen as a buildup of fat in the chest and belly. The fat content keeps increasing. When you take a deep breath, your lungs may have a harder time expanding to their full capacity. Because of this, the bottom parts of your lungs progressively collapse and become ineffective.

The collapse of the lungs, which may cause shortness of breath due to obesity, may initially only occur at night. The extra weight in your chest makes it harder to take deep breaths when lying down. Some of your lungs may collapse, making it difficult to breathe in and out. Adding on extra fat occurs as weight increase proceeds. Collapsed lung tissue might become permanent over time.

The accumulation of more fat in the chest and abdomen will make it tough for your lungs to expand in an upright position. Inadequate air exchange causes shortness of breath when large lung sections are not used.

Have queries or concern ?

    Solutions for easier breathing if you are overweight?

    Both respiratory rehabilitation and physical training might help you breathe easier.

    Cardio exercises, including walking, riding exercise bikes or cross trainers, and rowing machines, are used by physiotherapists for respiratory rehabilitation. Additionally, they teach breathing exercises and muscle strengthening routines that promote an upright posture.

    You should take measures if you suffer from shortness of breath when working out. Before starting any new kind of exercise, it is recommended that you see your doctor for a physical examination and fitness assessment.

    How Can You Treat Breathing Issues Caused by Obesity?

    Walking: There is no more comprehensive physical exercise than walking. Everything from the skeletal muscles to the internal organs is in motion when you twist and turn your spine. The breathing and heart pumps are operational. Posture and head carriage have both been improved. Additionally, it produces an abdominal massage that encourages defecation.

    Breathing Exercises: They help get your bones moving again. Practices like yoga, sophrology, Pilates, and relaxation are great for increasing mobility, especially in the thoracic cage. Also, it’s a must for better breathing.


    If you are overweight or obese, decreasing weight might help you breathe easier. Losing 1 to 2 pounds per week is a sensible weight reduction goal that may be achieved by making little changes to diet and increasing physical activity.

    If you have breathing problems, you and your doctor should take extra care to select an exercise regimen that is appropriate for your situation.

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