Can asthma cause fatigue

Fatigue – A Common Issue with Asthma

By now most people are at least aware of the basic symptoms of asthma. With millions of sufferers around the world, the odds are good that you know someone dealing with the condition. There’s also even a chance that you actually suffer from it yourself. Whether you’re trying to determine if asthma is a problem for you or are just trying to figure out what to expect from life now that you’ve been diagnosed, understanding the different symptoms is important to do. Along with the common breathing related symptoms, fatigue is one of the most common problems that those with asthma will suffer from.

Fatigue due to asthma can be caused by a couple of different problems. The most common is simply that those with asthma often suffer from a serious lack of sleep. Asthma can cause restless nights and difficulty falling asleep at all, and those with asthma often find that they have to cope with the lack of sleep nightly. This can quickly contribute to fatigue and make it very difficult to manage your day to day routine or to find the energy to do anything. And the lack of sleep is only compounded by the other asthma related issue that can trigger fatigue.

Probably the most important reason asthma can trigger fatigue is in your body’s oxygen levels. Every part of your body from your muscles to your organs needs oxygen in order to function properly. When oxygen levels are too low your body simply won’t have the energy it needs to operate correctly. Since asthma narrows the airways and make it much more difficult to get the right levels of oxygen, your body will end up with lower levels of oxygen than it should have. This in turn will leave you feeling drained of energy and fatigued. When you combine lower oxygen levels with a lack of sleep, fatigue becomes an all-too common issue among asthma sufferers.

When you’re diagnosed with asthma one of the first things your doctor will do will be to explain to you the different ways to manage your asthma. It’s important that you take the time to understand exactly what is said during this time so that you will understand how to control your asthma. If you fail to do so you could spend a good portion of your life feeling too tired to enjoy yourself. Asthma is a major issue, but you don’t have to let it ruin your life. Careful management can keep you breathing and feeling better than you might realize.

Asthma and Extreme Tiredness – Asthma UK communi…

Hi UniGirl and welcome!

Basically what Soph said! Asthma can definitely be tiring; it took me a while to get diagnosed and before I had any effective medication I used to get really tired with the simplest things and it had a big effect on me and what I was able to do (even just something like walking up and down the corridor a few too many times at work, or a short shopping trip, could wipe me out). Finding asthma medication that worked definitely made a difference. Recently I’ve been having a bit of a flare and again, found that I get tired very easily.

I’d agree with Soph that the amount of sleep you’re actually getting may not be nearly as much as you think if your asthma is playing up. Some people do find asthma keeps them ‘actively’ awake and I’ve sometimes found this is what drs/nurses mean if they ask about sleep (they often ask ‘what time did you wake up?’ – I don’t know, I just know I can’t stay awake in the day!), but I (and others on here from what I’ve read) have found that asthma can affect your sleep without you being aware at the time. What I get is waking up in the morning after hours in bed and feeling exhausted and like I’ve not had much sleep (if it’s bad, the next day feels like after a uni all-nighter!) – or I’ll half wake but not enough to know what time it is, or what’s going on, or actually take my inhaler which might improve my sleep!

It makes sense that they tested you for those other things but since they seem to be ok which is good, I would definitely say go back to the doctor and tell them your asthma is really affecting you. You don’t say what you’re on for asthma but whatever it is doesn’t seem to be doing the trick right now so they need to look at what the options are eg increasing strength of steroid inhaler, adding something extra.

Is Asthma to Blame for Your Post-Workout Fatigue?

Coughing: The inflammation and constriction of your airways can be irritating, leading to dry hacking. “This is actually the most common sign that people miss,” says Parikh. You shouldn’t have to press pause on the treadmill to hack up a lung, or find yourself coughing for hours after a workout.

Frequent Injuries: Again, chalk it up to the stress you’re putting on your body by exercising without taking in enough oxygen, says Parikh. (Here, five other times You’re More Prone to Sports Injuries.)

Overblown Fatigue: Sure, you’re going to feel tired after a long run. But if you feel need-a-nap exhausted for hours after 30 moderate-intensity minutes on the elliptical, take note, Parikh suggests. That’s a sign that you’re not getting enough oxygen in during your workout.

Stalled-out Gains: If you’re exercising regularly, you should be able to go a little longer or harder every week. So if you keep having to walk up the same hill toward the end of your run or tap out during spin, asthma may be to blame. “Exercise-induced asthma can make it difficult to gain endurance, since your body isn’t oxygenated adequately. Plus, it can stress your organs, like your heart, which tries to compensate,” says Parikh. (Psst-these 6 Foods Can Increase Your Endurance… Naturally!)

Thicker Snot (But No Cold): While doctors aren’t completely sure what causes it (or what comes first-the asthma or the mucus), increased congestion and post-nasal drip is a common sign of asthma, says Parikh.

  • By Mirel Ketchiff

What Are the Symptoms of Eosinophilic Asthma?

Eosinophilic asthma — a type of asthma that most often develops in adults — is marked by an increased number of white blood cells called eosinophils in the blood, lungs, and respiratory tract. High levels of eosinophils can cause inflammation and swelling in the airways and respiratory system.

When it comes to symptoms, eosiniphilic asthma isn’t that different from other types of asthma. “Symptoms are almost identical,” says Purvi S. Parikh, MD, an allergist and immunologist at NYU Langone Health in New York City.

That said, with eosinophilic asthma, symptoms may be more severe and persistent, and the usual asthma medications don’t provide relief. With this type of asthma, “it’s unfortunately much harder to get symptoms under control,” Dr. Parikh says.

According to the American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (APED), intense wheezing, coughing, trouble breathing (shortness of breath), and chest tightness are all common with eosinophilic asthma.

Fatigue is also very common, Parikh says. “Patients get very tired or winded from doing simple activities, like walking a few blocks or doing household chores.” They may feel tired from breathing itself, she adds, especially if they’re not breathing effectively.

People with eosinophilic asthma tend to feel winded, as if they are doing heavy exercise. “It can feel like full-body fatigue that affects your lungs, heart, and whole body,” she says.

Your doctor may find inflamed and swollen nasal passages and benign polyps in the nose, all of which can cause a runny nose or a feeling of pressure in that area, the APED says.

When It Comes to Eosinophilic Asthma, Severity Varies

Symptoms of eosinophilic asthma can vary widely, according to Michael Peters, MD, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

“Some patients describe an impact on daily life that’s relatively mild, with just a little cough,” Dr. Peters says. For others, “it’s extremely debilitating — where you’re being treated in the hospital with high doses of corticosteroids … and it’s completely changed your quality of life to the point that you can’t really function at all.”

According to Parikh, some people with eosinophilic asthma experience a squeezing sensation in the chest. Many have a hard time taking deep breaths, or even catching their breath. “Sometimes it’s so bad, people can’t even talk, or can’t talk in complete sentences.”

Other signs that point to eosinophilic asthma include “ending up in the emergency room more, in the doctor’s office more, requiring higher doses of medicines … requiring prednisone,” says Parikh. “People will say they’re unable to do simple household chores or play with their children, or they describe chest tightness like a squeezing pain that can sometimes be mistaken for a heart attack. They’re missing work or school .”

What’s more, “if you get woken up at night from your asthma,” Parikh says, “it’s a sign your asthma is uncontrolled.”

All of these are potential signs of severe eosinophilic asthma, Parikh says, and if you’re experiencing any of these signs, you need to be seen by your doctor.

When Eosinophilic Asthma Gets in the Way of Daily Life

“Sometimes people with eosinophilic asthma have this misconception that they are just getting old,” Parikh says. “They think they’re out of shape, and it’s actually dangerous because they downplay their symptoms. Nobody wants to be labelled with a chronic disease, so they’ll say it’s not that bad, and then we find out their symptoms are really limiting their life.”

In terms of lung function, experts still don’t know what the decline for people with this type of asthma will be over time, says Peters. “It’s been presumed that happens,” he says, and that may be the case — “but it actually has never been shown or proven.”

If your asthma symptoms are severe or persistent, or in any way feel out of control to you, be sure to contact your doctor. New medications, such as biologics that target eosinophils directly, may be able to make a big difference in how you feel and function, according to the APED.

Exhaustion – A Complication of Asthma

Asthma is a disease that makes it much harder for you to breath. It does so by narrowing the passages your lungs use to inhale and exhale, thus reducing air flow and oxygen levels entering the body. Oxygen is a major component of your body’s overall ability to function and as a result of asthma a wide range of different health conditions may very well occur. It is important to understand these issues so that you can not only realize when you need to see a doctor for a diagnosis but also so that you will be able to understand exactly what you may experience if you are an asthma sufferer. Exhaustion is among the most common but overlooked symptoms of asthma.

Exhaustion occurs in asthmatics for a couple of key reasons. The main one is the previously mentioned oxygen levels. When oxygen levels are reduced, your body simply isn’t receiving everything it needs to operate properly. Your muscles need the oxygen to work, as does the rest of your body. Everything from your brain to your heart function will be influenced by the oxygen you are taking into your body and as a result lower levels of oxygen will mean lower levels of energy. In serious cases this can go far beyond normal fatigue and into the realms of major exhaustion.

You’ll also notice that you don’t sleep as well as you should when you have asthma, especially if you suffer from nocturnal asthma. The symptoms can flare up and become far worse at night, which means that you’ll not be able to get the right amount of sleep or rest. In other words, you’ll end up experiencing even more exhaustion since you’ll not only be failing to get the right levels of oxygen into your bloodstream but also won’t be able to rest up enough to properly recharge your body.

Exhaustion can be a serious issue and have a serious impact on your life. Your social life will suffer, it can plummet you into unhappiness or even depression, and a lack of physical activity will actually cause you to become less healthy. Exercise is needed to keep in shape, and when you’re exhausted constantly you’ll find that it’s much harder to get active than it would be otherwise. In short, all aspects of your health and well-being can be impacted indirectly through exhaustion caused by your asthma. Getting control of your asthma is the best way to ensure you have the energy to live your life the way you want to.

Surprising Signs of Adult-Onset Asthma

That persistent cough that keeps you up at night may stem from more than just a tickle in the back of your throat. It could be adult-onset asthma.

Many people experience a jolt of disbelief when they are diagnosed with asthma later in life, especially if they have never experienced symptoms before. Asthma? That condition that causes kids to wheeze?

It turns out adult-onset asthma is far more common than many people realize. “Asthma is often considered a disease of children, so adults may be surprised when they are diagnosed with asthma,” says pulmonologist Javier Pérez-Fernández, M.D., the critical care director at Baptist Hospital of Miami.

The number of people with asthma grows every year. Currently, more than 26 million Americans have asthma, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those cases, more than 20 million are among adults, with the greatest number of cases among ages 35 and 65.

Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the lung airways that can lead to coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath or wheezing. Among adults who develop asthma later in life, the symptoms may initially be more subtle than in children, which can cause patients to overlook or ignore the condition. But it’s important to treat symptoms as soon as possible so they don’t become severe, said Dr. Pérez-Fernández, who also serves as director of pulmonology for West Kendall Baptist Hospital.

“Untreated, asthma is a very high-risk disease. It can be very dangerous,” he said. “But when it is treated, people with asthma can do very well. They are not limited in any way, and can have a completely normal life with all kinds of physical activity, including participation in sports.”

Asthma is particularly risky as people age, another important reason to seek diagnosis and treatment. Severe asthma attacks may require emergency room visits and hospitalization, and they can be fatal. Almost 3,600 people die of asthma each year, nearly half of whom are age 65 or older, according to the CDC.

“Adults are four times more likely to die of asthma than children,” Dr. Pérez-Fernández said. “It’s very avoidable. With the advances of the past 20 years, we do have the means to treat and control asthma.”

No one knows exactly what causes asthma. Among children, there appears to be a strong connection to allergies and genetics. Adults may also develop the condition due reflux, obesity, certain medications, respiratory illness or flu, and exposure to chemicals and environmental factors.

Some adults may develop occupational asthma, a condition triggered by irritants in their workplace. Aspirin-sensitive asthma is another type that is seen in adults. Adults who are overweight or obese are at greater risk, possibly because of the low-grade inflammation in the body that occurs with extra weight.

Not everyone who has asthma will experience the classic wheezing, Dr. Pérez-Fernández said. Here are some symptoms you should note:

  • Dry Coughing. You don’t feel sick, but you just can’t stop coughing — and over the counter medicines don’t help. That annoying dry cough may be due to asthma. Called cough-variant asthma, it may account for as many as a third of people who have a chronic cough, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. The coughing is often a problem at night or in the morning, although some people report asthma-related coughing that is brought on by laughing or even talking.
  • Sleep Disturbances. If you wake up frequently at night, it could be asthma. During sleep, the airways often narrow, which can cause an increased resistance to airflow, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Among people who have asthma, the night can pose particular problems with coughing or struggling to breathe. Researchers are trying to determine whether this is due to circadian rhythms, hormonal changes during sleep, lying in a prone position, nighttime post-nasal drip, or a combination of factors. Regardless of the reason, you should mention sleep concerns to your doctor. Too-little sleep can harm your health and make asthma worse.
  • Frequent yawning or sighing. These habits don’t necessarily mean you’re bored, tired or exasperated. They may, in fact, be symptoms of asthma. Yawning and sighing are ways to draw more oxygen into your body and push more carbon dioxide out. These behaviors could signal your body’s unconscious effort to solve imbalances caused by constricted airways.
  • Heartburn. Acid reflux is a daily fact of life for one out of five Americans. What many people don’t realize is that when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus, it can irritate your airways and cause asthma. “Reflux and asthma go together hand in hand,” said Dr. Pérez-Fernández. If you have reflux, talk to your doctor about strategies to control it, and pay attention to how it may be affecting your respiratory function.
  • Fatigue. Asthma limits your body’s ability to efficiently collect oxygen, and that can make you feel tired. Even mild exertion can feel exhausting. Don’t assume you’re just out of shape. While there are many reasons you may feel low energy, you should always mention to your doctor if you’re grappling with unusual fatigue, even if you don’t think it is asthma.
  • Chest Pain. Chest pain is always a reason for concern. But it’s not always a cardiac issue. If you feel like something is squeezing or sitting on your chest, it could be a symptom of asthma. Among patients admitted to the hospital for asthma attacks, 78 percent experienced chest pain that was worsened by coughing, inhaling deeply and moving, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. If you have chest tightness or pain, see your doctor. If you suspect you are having a heart attack, head immediately to the hospital.

Because some of these symptoms can be progressive, many patients don’t take notice and fail to mention them to their doctor — which is a mistake.

“Don’t dismiss your symptoms. If you find yourself short of breath, don’t blame your age, or that extra weight you might have put on. Tell your doctor, even if you think it’s nothing,” Dr. Pérez-Fernández advises. “If it’s asthma, your doctor will determine your treatment plan based on the severity of your symptoms, triggers, and your lifestyle.”

Tags: allergies, asthma, Baptist Sleep Center, lung health

Links Between Fatigue And Asthma

I feel fatigue quite a bit. I sort of brush it off to aging. But, a recent survey of asthmatics was done by this site, The survey results show that fatigue was the most common asthma symptom reported. But it is the least talked about asthma symptom. So, what does this mean? Is fatigue a symptom of asthma? If so, why? Let’s investigate links between fatigue and asthma.

So, what’s the deal?

You don’t normally hear about fatigue and asthma.

What you normally hear about are wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and chest tightness. These are your usual or typical asthma symptoms.

But there are also unusual asthma symptoms. These are symptoms that are sometimes observed by asthmatics. These include things like itchy chin, anxiety, stuffy nose, irritability, moodiness, nasal congestion, grumpiness, and things like that. This category is where I usually lump feeling tired or fatigue.

But, is it time to list fatigue next to the other typical symptoms of asthma? Let’s investigate.

Is fatigue caused by allergies?

About 60% of asthmatics have allergies.1 Researchers found a link between allergies and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) In fact, studies seem to indicate that 50% of those with CFS also have allergies. So, the link is quite prominent.2-3

CFS is a disorder that causes people to become easily fatigued. It also may cause body aches and pains a headache, joint pain, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, difficulty sleeping, and even depression. 2

If allergies cause CFS, then why? One theory suggests the link may be the overactive immune response. Exposure to allergens triggers an immune response. Chemicals are released into the bloodstream. These chemicals cause inflammation. This inflammation causes those annoying allergy symptoms. These same chemicals may also have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. Once in the brain, they may cause changes to the brain. These changes may lead to CFS. 3

So, let’s assume allergies is the cause of fatigue. If this is true, the likely best way to reduce daytime fatigue is to treat the allergies.

Is nocturnal asthma the cause?

Poor sleep habits is another likely cause of fatigue among asthmatics. Many people with asthma report trouble sleeping. Allergies at night-time may be the culprit here. Worsening asthma symptoms may be another culprit. It may be both. If you’re not sleeping well, then you’re likely to feel fatigue during the daytime. Such fatigue can make it difficult to function during the daytime. 4

Let’s assume this is the likely cause of daytime fatigue. The likely solution then would be to develop strategies for reducing nighttime asthma symptoms. In one study, treatment for nighttime asthma reduced daytime fatigue in children with nocturnal asthma. 4

Is the cause something else asthma-related?

Similar to caffeine in coffee, bronchodilators may cause wakefulness. Side effects may also include palpitations, nervousness, and restlessness. If you’re up late due to medicines to treat asthma, this can definitely lead to fatigue during the day. 5

Uncontrolled asthma may lead to nocturnal asthma. So too, I would imagine, would severe asthma. Severe asthma episodes at night may contribute to low oxygen levels. This would surely make a person feel short of breath during the daytime. Low oxygen levels may also contribute to fatigue.

So, these are other things to consider.

What should we make of this?

Well, it does appear that fatigue is more common in asthmatics than traditionally noted in asthma literature. It would definitely be neat to see more studies on links between asthma and fatigue.

Jenny’s Journey

  • Allergies, Asthma, and Lung
  • Asthma

When Asthma Attacks: How to Know If It’s an Emergency

Women. Wisdom. Wellness. Mar 4, 2016

All the signs are there. You know you’re having an asthma flare-up — but do you need to call 911? Get the facts now so you’re prepared if you ever need to know.

What Causes an Asthma Attack

Asthma triggers cause muscles around your airways to tighten. They also cause inflammation. This makes the lining of the airways swell. And thick, sticky mucus forms.

The result: breathing becomes more difficult.

As Joseph Allen, MD, Family Medicine of Vandalia, explains, “A lot of people relate it to breathing through a straw … where they just feel like they cannot move the air in and out of their lungs. So, you get this inflammation, it constricts the bronchioles (small branches of the main airways).”

Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

What happens to our body when we have an asthma attack?

Well, asthma is essentially a response to the body in the lungs that causes inflammation. It closes down the airways you use to breathe. Think about it kind of like a traffic jam on 75, if there is an accident and they close down one of the lanes in the road, there are fewer lanes for all of that traffic to go through. It makes it very hard to get the traffic through. A lot of people relate it to breathing through a straw, as well, where they just feel like they cannot move the air in and out of their lungs. So, you get this inflammation, it constricts the bronchioles. There are lots of other kinds of underlying things going on, but generally, that’s what causes the wheezing and the shortness of breath. There are many ways to treat that. The big thing, is the inflammation, getting rid of that, and they feel much better.

Most asthma attacks are moderate flare-ups. In this case, symptoms include:

  • Tightening chest
  • Coughing, especially at night
  • Tiring or getting out of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Quickened breathing at rest

When to Call 911

Asthma attacks can rise to a life-threatening, emergency level when you have the following symptoms:

  • Severe breathing difficulty
  • Being too short of breath to talk or walk
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy, like you’re going to pass out
  • Lips or fingers turning blue
  • The strength of your exhalations measure under 50 percent of your personal best on a peak flow monitor

Severe asthma attacks like this can cause brain damage or death. This is because your lungs lose their ability to take in life-giving oxygen and expel carbon dioxide.

Call 911 — or get someone to call for you — when you experience any of the above symptoms, especially if you cannot immediately relieve them with your prescribed quick-relief medication.

After an Asthma Attack

For several days following a flare-up you are at greater risk of additional asthma attacks. During this time period:

  • Avoid your asthma triggers
  • Use a peak flow monitor to keep track of your breathing
  • As always, take your medications as instructed, even when you feel great

When you stray from your doctor’s orders regarding asthma treatment, you put yourself at risk of a serious condition called airway remodeling.

Severe asthma attacks can cause brain damage or death.

In this condition, your lungs become scarred. This reduces the effectiveness of your asthma medications and weakens your ability to breathe. You can avoid airway remodeling by working with your doctor to develop and maintain a treatment plan that works for you, reducing your risk of asthma attacks.

If you need medical assistance, contact CareFinders at 1-866-608-FIND to make an appointment with a physician, or call 911 immediately if it is an emergency.

Source: American Lung Association; Joseph Allen, MD, Family Medicine of Vandalia

Joseph P Allen, MD, FAAFP

Premier Health Family Care of Vandalia

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Asked by Hazel

How Do To Recover From An Asthma Attack After The Immediate Crisis Is Over?

For people with occasional moderate attacks, what should recovery look like? I haven’t felt like I’ve been bouncing back from the attack at all. I’ve been getting leg and hip pain, the kind I get when I run too many miles in a week, just feels like extreme exhaustion. I have mostly been able to talk normally again, although my voice is still weak and I’m still coughing a little.

How much pain/discomfort is normal from steroids/prednisone? If my legs hurt and I’m exhausted and dehydrated, is that from over-using or under-using bronchodilators? What does “every four hours, as needed” mean, anyway? Does that every four hours, unless I’m feeling great, or every four hours, if I’m feeling really breathless? Am I fatigued because I’m recovering from the attack, or because I’m still fighting it, and is there a difference?


I wish I had all the answers for you, but asthma is a unique illness in that it effects every asthmatic different. Likewise, what medicine(s) work for one patient may not necessarily work for another, which is why you’ll need to continue to work with your doctor to determine the best medicine regime for you.

Yet, ideally, you should be able to obtain good control of your asthma. I wrote a post about this recently that might help you out. Just click here.

I’ll try to answer your other questions too:

1. How much pain/discomfort is normal from steroids/prednisone? This medicine effects everyone different. While I have heard some who take this complain of leg discomfort, I never experienced this when I was on the stuff. Usually it makes me hungry and that’s it. Actually, it gives me an unsatiable apetite.

2. If my legs hurt and I’m exhausted and dehydrated, is that from over-using or under-using bronchodilators? No. At least I have never observed this when I’ve overused my rescue medicine, and I’ve never had my patients note this. The main side effect of bronchodilators is nervousness, shakiness and, in some cases if used way too much, increased heart rate.

3. What does “every four hours, as needed” mean, anyway? Does that every four hours, unless I’m feeling great, or every four hours, if I’m feeling really breathless? It means if you’re feeling short of breath, go ahead and use it. If you think you need it and you are not short of braeth, go ahead and use it anyway. It’s a good medicine, and it’s safe, so don’t worry about using it too much. Now, every 4 hours as needed also means that if you need it more often than every 4 hours, your asthma is getting worse and you should call your doctor or go back to the ER.

4. Am I fatigued because I’m recovering from the attack, or because I’m still fighting it, and is there a difference? Good question. This one is not so easy to answer. Obviously if your having trouble breathing you may be using accessory muscles to breath, and your body might be working overtime to fight an infection, or to fight allergens, and this might cause you to feel tired. Plus if you’re having lots of trouble breathing, you may not be getting adequate sleep even while you’re lying down at night. All or some or none of this might figure into your fatique-ness.

5. And when can I start to push myself again? I would love to (slowly) run a 5k this weekend. I think it’s great you have your mind set on running again. You might want to start by walking at first. At least then you’ll be doing something. Yet don’t push yourself too hard or too fast. You’ll know when you’re ready to push yourself again. You may also want to discuss this with your doctor, as he may want you to fully rest until your body has a chance to recover.

I hope this help. Feel free to ask if you have further questions, no matter how silly you think they might be. Always remember you are not alone in what you are going through, as there are many asthmatics on this site (like myself) who have been there, done that, and are willing to help if we can.

Good luck!!!

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