Asthma and tiredness: Hello everyone, I... - Asthma UK communi...

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Asthma and tiredness

PaulRosedene profile image

Hello everyone,

I have had asthma for over 50 years since I was a nipper. I believe there is a link between asthma and tiredness and often feel the need to lie down and rest.

During this year I have been feeling more and more tired. At times my asthma has also been bad this year, but currently I am feeling tired and my asthma has been fairly stable.

Do others feel there is a link between asthma and tiredness ? Does anything help with the tiredness ?

34 Replies

Yes. Rightly or wrongly. Also tiredness possibly caused by the medication I am on. But the tiredness and loss of energy and oomph is sort of marked. My sleep has changed, though I sleep mostly reasonably well, my nights mostly feel very busy, as if my head is full of activity. I often wake up at 4am thinking it must be morning or later as I feel I have slept for so long. It could be the steroids I inhale all the time. And then there is of course the likely slight reduction of oxygen in the system, not enough to cause any concerns, but perhaps enough to make me tired.

Yep, life long asthmatic and tired most of the time.

Yes I’m tired and lethargic all the time. I try to push myself to do more and when I do often feel better for it. I’m certain it’s the inhaled steroids that are to blame that affect my adrenal glands which also causes me to suffer with anxiety. I take loads of supplements to try to counteract it all. It’s a battle.

Hi PaulRosedene, I've also had asthma since I was about 9 months old and I'm now 58. I am finding that the more I look into it, it's related to food allergy and intolerance as well as allergies such as pollen, grass etc. My asthma is also set off by cold. I am tired all the time and I'm now at the point of thinking I need to retire. In my case I think I'm possibly tired because my bodies fighting foods it cant process. It's interesting because antibiotics and steroids ruin gut flora so make it more difficult to break down foods. It's a vicious circle. I do feel better though since cutting out gluten and dairy completely. Sorry to go on but hope this helps you get sorted out in some way.

PaulRosedene profile image
PaulRosedene in reply to Ayeup

Hi Ayeup.

We have quite a lot in common. I also have allergies such as pollen, grass etc. I also have food intolerances. I have also cut out gluten and dairy completely. Although I react to gluten and dairy, cutting them out has not led to any improvement in my asthma.

I am interested in your comment that steroids ruin gut flora. I have been on inhaled steroids for decades, since Intal was phased out.

Ayeup profile image
Ayeup in reply to PaulRosedene

Intal! That's a blast from the past 😃 yes I was on that too. My general health has been so poor lately I've had to look at what else I can do to help myself as I'm still working full time too. The gut health issue came up because I suffer from fibromyalgia and peripheral neuropathy as well. To cut a long story short I've been able to reduce meds for those 2 since adjusting my diet but unfortunately it hasn't helped my asthma 😟. Not to be deterred I'm now looking into the effects of mould/damp in the home and how that affects our lungs. This research (courtesy of Google) is taking up a lot of time but I'm hoping for some relief in the end. Going back to food intolerance- it's a shame that here in the UK the GP's arent interested in this subject. I had to pay to have an intolerance test done (£35 Groupon). I wouldn't normally have done something like that but the results were interesting and I have removed the food items they have said I'm intolerant to to see if it works. Long story short - yes it has worked but not for asthma 😟. Look at gut microbiome on Google. The antibiotics and steroids run ours which makes us prone to other issues.

I think any illness, especially long term, can cause tiredness - I have a fair collection myself - yesterday I got up, had breakfast, sat down and fell asleep for two hours. If you haven’t already run it past your gp, tho, please do - there might be a new cause (anaemia is a common one). You never know your luck, it might be treatable!

I have had asthma all my life and I feel tired a lot. I also have sleep apnoea and I wonder how much it has to do with that. I do have a CPAP machine finally and I think it does help. But when I have a bad chest, I find it harder to keep the mask on due to the cough.

I am so glad you brought this up! It has been a factor for me for some time, and I wondered why this lethargy etc. Certainly asthma and medications occurred to me, but I also though mild depression (over the state of the world), and ageing. The latter two may indeed add to it, but knowing that others with asthma struggle with this does validate that aspect of it for me. I am not just being a wuzz. Or lazy.

Ayeup profile image
Ayeup in reply to Wheezycat

I'm at the point now, at 58 and a half, thinking I cant carry on working full time - it's too hard. I did want to work until 60 if I could although I wont get my state pension until 68 😟 but I'm so tired all the time and run down I don't think I can make it. Is anyone else working full time and if so, how do you cope?

Wheezycat profile image
Wheezycat in reply to Ayeup

I am not as I am quite a lot older, but even the few hours I still work has become a struggle.

I've assumed, having grown up with asthma, that the whole thing might work like a vehicle: fed on the wrong kind of fuel, the muscles wouldn't work as efficiently. And chronic anaemia, which I had for many years, again because of the impoverished blood - not enough air in there to make it work well, ever. I've submitted this explanation to doctors, asthma nurses, etc, and been repeatedly blanked. I KNOW some of it is due to allergies; I have proven allergy to dust and particularly aspergillus, and in my last job was forced to work in a tiny office with open ceiling tiles right outside the door, and a nice roofspace containing plenty of dust, and aspergillus, and asbestos dust dribbling down most of the day. I was poorly a lot of the last few years at that job, with chest infection/asthma attacks/and what was diagnosed as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome by a doctor employed by the people I worked for, as in, work a day, followed by three days off sick struggling to breathe, back to work and so tired I would fall asleep on my desk.

PaulRosedene profile image
PaulRosedene in reply to Elspe

I have a daughter with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This is a very challenging condition. I have heard that some people suddenly find the CFS has gone. What surprised me was how the CFS also affected my daughter's balance. I could see it in her some mornings. She also had muscle aches. If I have CFS, I have a very mild version. But others have commented on a link between asthma and feeling tired. I have fallen at asleep at work, usually after drinking. I once fell sleep during a business dinner. I used to fall asleep during lectures in hot, stuffy rooms after a busy day.

I have just googled for asthma and tiredness, and this came up:

Hey Wheezycat,

I have been reading and trying to understand the interesting article you have kindly posted. Looks like you need degrees in both medicine and statistics to make much sense of the article.

But did see one interesting comment :

"Indeed, ‘tiredness’ is the most common patient-reported adverse event following asthma treatment."

What's confusing here (to me at least), since I don't have a degree in either medicine or statistics, is that since asthma treatment follows asthma, how do they know if the tiredness is due to the asthma or the treatment ?

I am completely with you on all fronts! I also struggled to understand the stats and the medicine! But also could see that tiredness is confirmed. Regarding what causes the tiredness, for now my money is both on the condition (lack of easy access to oxygen) and medicine side effects.

Js706 profile image
Js706 in reply to PaulRosedene

I think to try and sum up the main points from the article:

- Loads of asthma patients say they suffer from fatigue but none of the official asthma guidelines take it into account

- Whether you struggle with fatigue or not isn’t related to how severe your asthma is day to day

- The main things related to fatigue levels were how breathless people were on daily activities (more breathless, more fatigue) and how controlled their asthma was according to one of the questionnaires they use (worse control, more fatigue)

- People also often complain about fatigue following asthma treatment (although not acute asthma treatment as people with flares in the 3 months before the study weren’t looked at as a flare will always make fatigue worse!)

So looks like yes there’s a big link, it’s not really considered by healthcare yet (no big surprise there though!) and they need to look into it more to actually work out all the factors involved. Hope that helped a little :)

Wheezycat profile image
Wheezycat in reply to Js706

Thank you for the translation! Good there is a person on here who speaks medicalese! Could that form of translation be another vocational/professional strand within your working career?

Js706 profile image
Js706 in reply to Wheezycat

Medical student here 😅 so I guess hearing I can translate it reasonably well is good for my future work!

Plus I would love to do some sort of work/research into how stuff is communicated to patients (at the moment, badly!)

Wheezycat profile image
Wheezycat in reply to Js706

Indeed! I am reasonably on the ball, but those articles I do need translating. Mostly I just concentrate on the abstract and the conclusion, even if I am curious about the middle bit. And people who do, think about communicating etc, and the research are muchly welcomed! That said, I have experienced doctors in my life who I really take my hat off to. One such was many years ago, a paediatric asthma specialist who saw our daughter for a period, perhaps between ages 6 and 9. He was far better at saying the right things to our daughter (including admiring her then favourite, absolutely hideous, skirt! That was heroic!). He was less good with parents, that is very poor eye contact. But two things he said that have always stuck with me: 1. “I am the expert on the condition, you are the expert on your daughter.” 2. “Medicine is almost like a craft - we have to try to see what works for your daughter” (Meaning that though medicine is based on science it is not possible to know exactly, not yet at that scientific point.)

Js706 profile image
Js706 in reply to Wheezycat

I couldn't agree more with those two things! Particularly the second one, medicine is in the very weird meeting point of being both a science and an art I think!

PaulRosedene profile image
PaulRosedene in reply to Js706

Dear Js706,

Thank you for your interpretation. The future looks bright for you. Any idea how I can get hold of the fatigue questionnaire that the article mentioned ?

Js706 profile image
Js706 in reply to PaulRosedene

Thank you! This is the article which originally described the questionnaire:

If you scroll down to the appendix on page 5 of the pdf the questionnaire is there :)

Thanks for sharing the article. Interesting and confirms I think what we as asthmatics already know. The question now is, what can we do about it or how can we help ourselves? Just coming out of another flare up and no I don't fancy going for a jog in the park 😂


I need some advice

A month ago I took naprogesic pills to ease my period pain

Minutes after I became so breathless

Doctors say naproxen triggers asthma but I’ve taken it for years and never had asthma or breathing problems

Could I have developed asthma from the pills?

I am not the medically trained person here, but I don’t think the pills would trigger the condition, but that if you have the condition, or a tendency to the condition, that it could trigger an episode.

Js706 profile image
Js706 in reply to Idontknow748

This forum isn't really a place for medical advice but while naproxen can trigger an asthma attack I wouldn't have thought taking the pills could cause asthma.

But asthma can develop at any age.

If its something you're worried about then I would go to your GP and speak to them about it in more detail. Or you can call the AUK nurses, who are really lovely and helpful for talking through things! ( or the helpline number is 0300 222 5800)

Idontknow748 profile image
Idontknow748 in reply to Js706

Well doctors here in Australia have been telling me it could’ve possibly caused my asthma but it doesn’t make sense to me as I’ve used these pills for a long time

I don’t know but thanks anyway

I initially considered it unlikely that pills could cause asthma. But I found something on the virtual medical centre which showed asthma as an uncommon side effect of naproxen.

If you stop taking the pills does the asthma clear up ?

You have put this on someone else’s post, and though relevant, you may get more responses if you flag it up in a post of your own.

I have found this so helpful - I've posted before that I get chronic fatigue which has definitely worsened over the last couple of years since I was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Asthma. Some days I feel I spend more time in bed than out of it, but it is irresisible, and I just fall asleep at my desk/in my chair if I try and fight it. Doctors have always been unsympathetic. Some of the suggestions I've had have been:

You're tired because you're ill.

You're tired because you're fat (even though it was the steroids that made me really fat, and I've had CF for twenty odd years).

You're stressed.

When I try and explain that it isn't like normal healthy tiredness, but more like some sort of crash, they just switch off. Boring! But recently I was reading that scientists in America, where they tend to take CF more seriously, are linking it to the Immune System overworking, which is exactly what Eosinophic Asthma is doing. One doctor said that scientists are finding more and more illnesses link to Immune disorders, so the future may find different treatments, and maybe complementary treatments for both asthma and CF. Probably after my lifetime. I am taking Omega 3, to try and help the brain fog, but nothing else seems to work. I have tried keeping a fatigue diary but it doesn't seem to link up with what I eat, or how busy my day is. I do know, that it is very hard to live with!

I had not considered keeping a fatigue diary. That's a good idea.

This may be a dumb question, but what is the relationship between the fatigue you experience and sleep ? Can you sleep off the fatigue ? Is it due to poor sleep patterns ?

Hi Paul,

I've noticed two things: if I have a bad night's sleep, for whatever reason, it does write off the next day, but that's normal in a way, isn't it! But some days I have to sleep, sometimes straight after breakfast, nearly always in the afternoon and it is a strange thing, unlike normal tiredness, I feel a wooliness come over me, hard to describe, but like something has shifted in my brain, and then it is virtually impossible to resist sleep. In the morning, I lie down and sleep for 20 minutes, on a timer, and that seems to sort it till the afternoon. But I will always sleep for an hour in the afternoon, and have to put a timer on, or I would sleep for longer. I so wish doctors would take it seriously, as it is terribly handicapping. My asthma consultant wants to blame everything on obesity, because, since I started on corticosteroids, I have got a lot fatter, but I've had the fatigue thing for 27 years now (I'm 67), which takes in periods when I wasn't fat, and that didn't seem to sort it out. I really believe it's an immune disorder, which has worsened with me getting Eosinophilic asthma. But you're left to sort it out on your own, sigh!

Yes. I've been on steroid inhalers and oral steroids for three years and with the effort to breath at times , I think this is the reason I feel so tired. At times I'm scared to sit down because I know I will fall asleep. Good job when he made time he made a lot of it or else nothing would get done.

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