ZocdocAnswersCould being overweight cause someone to have shortness of breath?

Question

Could being overweight cause someone to have shortness of breath?

I get short of breath a lot. I am overweight so I'm wondering if maybe that is the cause. Would being overweight give me shortness of breath? Sometimes I can even hear my chest sort of wheezing when I breathe.

Answer

Certainly being overweight can cause shortness of breath with exertion. When there is more weight to carry around, more calories get burned with each given movement and therefore more oxygen needs to be used. This can cause one to get short of breath with any type of exercise. If you are getting short of breath at rest, it would be difficult for me to chalk that up just to you being overweight. In addition, the fact that you may be wheezing suggests that there may be another reason that you are short of breath. What you need is to have a full examination by your primary care physician including a lung examination. Your doctor should be able to tell you if you are wheezing. A simple breathing test called a peak flow test can help tell if you have an obstructive lung disease such as asthma. Other testing including full pulmonary function testing may be required to work it out. If you are not wheezing, and your breathing tests are normal, then you may need other testing to figure out why you are short of breath. This may include an evaluation of your heart with an echocardiogram or possibly an exercise stress test. I hope you feel better soon.

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