Muscle Weakness, Weight Loss, and Nutrition in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
People who have severe
COPD often lose too much weight. Too much weight loss
causes your body to break down muscle and makes you weaker. This can lead to
even more shortness of breath and even less activity. Over time, you become so
weak that you need to depend on others for daily living.
reasons for the weight loss and loss of muscle in COPD are not completely
understood. But experts believe that it happens because of a combination of
things. These may include:
Using up more energy and nutrients, perhaps because it takes more energy to breathe or do any physical activity.
A frequent need for oral corticosteroids. This medicine
increases the breakdown of muscle tissue.
Less interest in food. People who have COPD may eat less because they are
depressed, which can cause a lack of interest in
eating. Taking certain medicines can also cause this lack of
Too little oxygen. COPD may be
causing too little oxygen to get into your blood. This can keep your body from
using food properly.
Poor eating habits,
which can also cause weight loss.
A full stomach may press on your
diaphragm and make it harder to breathe. Holding your
breath while chewing or swallowing may be uncomfortable if you are already
short of breath.
Older adults who are alone much of the time may
not eat right.
The cost of food may cause poor eating habits in
people who have a limited income.
Avoiding weight loss
Eating well is important
Keeping up your strength and your weight and
immune system strong. That helps you fight the lung
infections common in those who have COPD.
registered dietitian can help you learn how much and
what kinds of food you need to eat to stay as strong as you can.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.