Asthma - making me fat and unhappy

Hello all,

I'm new to the forums so thanks for reading my post.

Basically, I've had asthma since I was a baby (now 21) and had it reasonably well controlled first with nebs and then just inhalers. However over the last 10 months it has got a LOT worse - gone from mild symptoms to almost constant wheezing and chest pressure.

It started off with nebs and prednisolone courses and then I went onto Seretide 500 (from symbicort) - it worked initially, but lately I am feeling dreadful again. I saw my asthma nurse today, and she gave me another prescription for Montelukast (which she had taken me off because she said it didn't work and was expensive for the practice to prescribe!). If that doesn't work its back on the prednisolone again, so fingers crossed it does!

However, I also brought up the fact that the inhaler is making me put on weight (just over a stone in about 7 months). I have always enjoyed food but lately I just can't shift the weight - and given that i'm used to being slim and quite physically fit, its hard being the way I am now. The nurse said just to cut down on portions and look for low cal options - that's fine, but I think I have quite a healthy diet as it is. I don't consume excessive numbers of calories, but find it really hard to diet. I tend to find myself skipping meals instead. Has anyone else experienced weight gain? If so, what worked? Exercise is a bit difficult at the moment, as i'm going through a rough patch with a chest infection, and with my asthma worse doing things like walking to uni which i usually ALWAYS do aren't happening. Guess i just sit at home instead.

Also have a history of depression - I'm worried that after a year of keeping it under control, asthma is tipping me over the edge again. I've tried to talk to friends about it, but they aren't asthma sufferers and just said ""it'll be fine when you come off the medication"" - which is a bit of a kick in the face given it doesn't look likely that I'll be coming off this dose for a while (my next review is mid May).

Sorry for the long first post,

grateful for any replies

Natalie

8 Replies

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  • Hi Natalie.

    Welcome to the forum, rest assured you are not alone. I'm new to the forum but not to asthma, suffered since birth and over the lat 5 years got worse and had more and more meds added to my concotion! I was on Montelukast and found that it didn't really help and it also caused insomnia. I was changed on to Zafirlukast, same 'family' of drugs but fewer side effects. maybe that would be an option for you.

    As for the weight gain it is a problem and hard for some to avoid, me included. You can't exercise as it just makes your chest worse so what can you do apart from watch what you eat? The answer is not much more than that. As your friends say when the meds decrease so will the side effects, but that doesn't help you right now does it.

    I personally dont have any gems of wisdom to offer you but I wanted to let you know you're not alone and what you're feeling isn't uncommon or wrong. My asthma depresses me on a daily basis and its my friends that help me through. Don't let asthma control you, take it by the horns and own it. When you feel you are in control (even if you are unwell) it will help.

    Sorry I cant offer a quick fix, it's a bumpy ride but you have the wheel. My respiratory physio recommends a gentle 15_30 minute walk a day with a scarf over my mouth to encourage nose breathing which filters and heats the cold air before it hits my lungs, maybe this would help on the exercise front if you feel up to it.

    Hope you feel a bit less alone on this one, PM me if you ever want to chat or just write down how you are feeling, it does help to share even if there are no answers. Plus, the 'alert me' feature on the posts doesnt work, only notified of PMs.

    J

  • hi

    welcome to the forum!

    i was diagnosed at 17 and more or less controlled until the last 12 months and now its a downwards spiral so i know exactly how u are feeling....

    you certainly arent alone, but at the same time i havent got all the answers for you either, wish i did.

    i dont have my family around in london, but i have fantastic friends and that helps. and this forum helps as everyone offers a lot of advice and support for each other as we all have varying degrees of same condition and have differing experiences to share.

    just wanted to offer you my support and support what breathe-easy is saying. feel free to PM me

    x x x

  • Hi there,

    I was actually diagnosed with asthma in graduate school, although I've had it since I was a kid. It was weird having to take a bunch of medicines all of a sudden. I had one friend who lived across from me, and she was always asking me to exercise with her (especially if I had a cold). It took me forever to convince her that I couldn't until I was doing better.

    It sounds to me like you are doing all you can do. I do try to walk as I can, of course stopping or adjusting as I get symptoms. Another thing that I do is I try to focus on the times that I feel better, or at least to enjoy the good times when they happen. And then deal with the bad times when they come.

    I don't have hope that I will be able to take less meds, but I do have hope that I will have times where I am healthier. Also I've had some luck losing weight during the better periods. But I have trouble staying patient with it too as when I get sick it's hard to have as much control over that.

    Bee

  • Hi Natalie

    It's very hard to sit back and watch yourself put on weight but you really shouldn't miss meals if you can help it. If you're really concerned you could make (or get someone to make for you) a vegetable soup that has lots of flavour and very few calories. A friend of mine has adapted the recepie used in the cabbage soup diet (less cabbage and more of everything else) and will have that at least once a day. You can freeze it in portions so it is very easy to deal with.

    I understand that the situation isn't helping your depression. Do you have anybody to talk to? If not, the Depression Alliance runs self help groups in most areas. The other thing that might be helpful is a website which offers online CBT via a series of exercises and questionnaires. I don't know how good it is but I figure that anything is worth a try. The address is moodgym.anu.edu.au/welcome

    Good luck

    xx

  • thank you everybody

    you have no idea how much better i feel just for having written down how i am feeling and hearing from other people who feel the same. i guess the hardest part of it is that sense of feeling out of control of your body. i will definitely try some of your suggestions though - i made a huge pot of vegetable soup yesterday (which also helped me keep busy) and i hope to go for a walk tomorrow as my chest is quite crackly today.

    i'm really glad i joined the forum as although my mum has asthma, it is very mild and i don't feel she understands. i know she worries but if i bring up how i'm feeling or my symptoms she tells me to get straight to the doctors.

    big thanks to everybody, especially those who said i can PM in the future.

    coming soon to an inbox near you! natalie xx

  • am glad u feeling a little better after writing everything down and getting it 'off your chest' so to speak!

    remember, problem shared is problem halved!

    x

  • Hiya.

    I know how you are feeling. I have developed brittle asthma over the last few years and I've been on pred for just under a year, more or less constantly, and I've gained almost two stone.

    People often don't realise how badly asthma can affect your mood; it's really frustrating not being able to do things, especially when you're a young person and everyone's going out and stuff (it really stresses me out that I can't do normal things that people do at uni). Understandably your weight has gone up too, probably because it's difficult to be active.

    I agree with other posters on here; don't skip meals. It doesn't really work, and you end up feeling tired, which sometimes makes the asthma feel more difficult and you end up in a bit of a vicious cycle. Try to eat something, even if it's small.

    And, yeah, feel free to PM me if you want to chat. :D

  • Nlussey

    Your inhaler isn't making you fat, oral pred can cause people to gain weight if taken for very long periods of time. You have mentioned that you have a healthy diet which is good, but may I recommend that you keep a food diary and see how many calories you are consuming, you might surprise yourself. Cutting out meals is a really bad thing to do, your body starts to starve and will hang onto the fats and sugars that you do put into your body. Plus it makes you feel very unhappy.

    I have struggled with my weight for many years, I have been 23 stone in the past and now currently 18 and working hard to shed a stone so that I can get into summer clothes. Until I started taking oral pred I was slim, and had no weight issues.

    Trying to lose weight when you are unhappy, is very hard, you need to change the way you think, not easy I hear you scream, no of course it isn't. I too have a history of depression and can be a very negative person if in a stroppy cow state.

    So I have put on a stone over the winter after having a lazy time due to illness, what am I doing about it? Well I am not on a diet. Diets just scream failure to me. So I am just cutting down on the naughty stuff. I have nothing indoors that can tempt me, I take small amounts of money out with me, so that I can't let myself be tempted. And have one blow out day a week. Yes it is working.

    So I recommend, cutting down on the bread, don't drink much fruit juice, certainly no more than a glass a day, high sugar levels. Have a bowl of cereal or toast, maybe a boiled egg as a change for breakfast. Lunch can be something like beans on toast or a jacket potato. And the evening a proper cooked meal. If snacking is a problem for you like me, just keep chewing the sugar free gum.

    Finally you are not fat, horrible word and it doesn't exist in this house. You are slightly bigger but still beautiful, and dare let anyone tell you otherwise.

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