HealthDay News — Overweight and obese children with asthma may mistake symptoms such as exertional dyspnea and esophageal reflux for loss of asthma control, leading to unnecessary use of rescue medications, results of a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology indicate.
“Past studies of asthma in overweight/obese children have been inconsistent,” wrote Jason E. Lang, MD, MPH, of Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, Fla., and colleagues. “The reason overweight/obese children commonly report worse asthma control remains unclear.”
To examine the qualitative differences in symptoms between overweight/obese and lean children with early-onset, atopic asthma, the investigators conducted a cross-sectional analytic study involving children aged 10 to 17 years with persistent, early-onset asthma.
Lung function was similar for overweight/obese and lean children, reported the scientists. Overweight/obese children reported more frequent rescue treatments (3.7 versus 1.1 treatments per week; P=0.0002) despite lower fraction of exhaled nitric oxide (P=0.037) and reduced methacholine responsiveness (P<0.012).
The primary symptoms reported with loss of asthma control varied with weight status (P=0.003); shortness of breath was more frequently reported by overweight/obese children (odds ratio, 11.8), while cough was less often reported (odds ratio, 0.26).
Compared with lean children, overweight/obese children had higher gastroesophageal reflux scores (9.6 versus 23.2; P=0.003), which seemed to mediate symptoms of overweight/obesity-linked asthma.
“Overweight/obese children with early-onset asthma display poorer asthma control and a distinct pattern of symptoms,” concluded the researchers.
“Overweight children with asthma may falsely attribute exertional dyspnea and esophageal reflux to asthma, leading to excess rescue medication use.”