A Guide to Living with a Severe Asthmatic

Us asthmatics can be miserable, moaning sods, whether it is down to lack of sleep, frustration (with our condition) or all of the meds that we take. At times we must be murder to live with, mood swings and rapidly changing health don’t contribute towards easy and happy relationships. But please spare a thought for what we have to go through. Does one of your friends or loved ones have asthma?  This can be a difficult condition to live with — both for us asthmatics and those who care about us. Read on to find out more about things you should remember if you love someone with our chronic condition.

We Can Be Embarrassed by our Condition

Most people with asthma have stories to tell about having an asthma attack at work or school or other public place.  These attacks are obvious and it can be very embarrassing for us when people stop and stare or stand around and don’t know what to do, or even worse when they think they know what to do! There is never a good time for an asthma attack but you can guarantee that we will have one at the most inconvenient time. The other thing is the stigma that is associated with asthma, you know the kind of stuff, the stereotypical nervous, often bullied, unfit, overweight, nerd which leads me nicely onto………

We Are Not Sickly or Nerdy!

How many TV shows have portrayed people with asthma as either invalids or geeks. We don’t wear old fashioned NHS glasses, we don’t all have an asthma attack as soon as we laugh. The truth is that asthmatics are neither sickly nor nerdy — and many asthmatics are healthy apart from our respiratory condition.

We Can’t Travel Light

People with asthma have a lot to remember before they leave the house in the morning — let alone going on a holidays and days out. I never leave home without my meds, inhalers, nebuliser  and medical information, on longer trips and holidays I will also need to take my peakflow meter, my oximeter and flutter device, never mind the addition stuff that I require for my diabetes (which I developed as a result of my asthma meds), blood  glucose monitor, insulin, needles and glucose. It all takes up a lot of space and even an simple overnight trip can require a lot of planning and you should see the look on the stewards faces when they are searching me before allowed entry to a football stadium!

We Usually Need to Go to the Doctor / Hospital a Lot

Between annual few vaccines, visits to the asthma nurse, medication reviews, consultant appointments, hospital admissions, general check-ups and other non asthma related appointments, us asthmatics can find themselves sitting in the waiting room at the hospital or GP surgery lot more than the average person.  This can be frustrating — and can also cause problems for us at work about having to take time off for medical care if the boss is less than understanding.

We Hate the Winter

It’s hard work walking in a winter wonderland when the first breath of cold air sends your respiratory system into spasms. Even when we wrap up with a scarf over our mouths and noses, it can still be difficult just to get from the house to the car during the worse of the year’s cold weather.

We Also Hate Cold and Flu

For most people, getting a cold or the flu is a pain in the neck, but it is not something that they take very seriously.  For someone with asthma, however, these minor respiratory infections can turn quickly into something major and can take weeks to recover from – or even mean a stay at the hospital.

We Want to Remind You to Watch What You Wear (we aren’t talking clothes here)

When you live with or just hang out with someone who has asthma, be careful of what you wear in regards to personal care products. That new mango-peach-vanilla lotion might smell great to you, but it can set off a potentially serious asthma attack. So be careful of things like perfume, hair sprays, after shaves and deodorants, as these can all be a problem for us asthmatics. You can also add into that air fresheners and scented candles which can send us running for our inhales

We Can Exercise

Many people assume that just because we have asthma, we won’t be able to be active. As a matter of fact, though, exercise and activity are important parts of asthma treatment.  Many asthmatics have actually gone on to careers as professional athletes. We just have to be more careful, often treating ourselves before practice and allowing for a warm-up and cool down. We have to know our limitations and sometimes our condition will be so bad that we can’t exercise or be active but this is not the case all of the time.

We Have to Think About Breathing

This one might sound strange, because most people breathe without ever thinking about it — it just happens naturally. Asthmatics, on the other hand, have to be continually aware of our breathing and often have to monitor ourselves in order to pick up on the signs of an oncoming flare-up.

We Can’t Always Plan Ahead

Booking holidays, tickets to events and even days out can’t be easily planned. We don’t know from one day to the next how our lungs are going to feel, never mind weeks or months in advance. Often we will not want to commit and even if we do we may need to cancel or alter our plans at the last minute.

We Hate it When Nobody Listens or Believes Us

The majority of the time an asthmatic looks fit and healthy and that is because in between attacks we usually are. However every asthmatic is unique, we don’t all wheeze, we don’t all cough, we aren’t all treatable with a blue inhaler. Sats are often a good guide as to how we feel or how sick we are, however sats are only a guide, we as the asthmatic know our condition better than anybody and we know how we feel. As my consultant tells me, I am the expert and she would rather me have a low peak flow and (slightly) low oxygen levels but be coping well and feel fine rather than me be struggling but having good sats. There aren’t many things worse for an asthmatic than to have what they are saying doubted. We are all different, we are all unique, our asthma should on its individual merits and not by text book.

We Are Expensive

We spend money on nebulisers and gadgets which should improve our health, we need a fan, an air purifier, we spend money on anti dust this, anti allergy that and asthma friendly the other. Our prescriptions cost us a fortune, having to pay for tv in hospital is a rip off, you visiting us in hospital is costing you a fortune to park. Our careers suffer due to sickness and time off, we don’t get the pay rise, we don’t get the bonus, sometimes we don’t even get paid at all and even worse we lose our jobs or are physically not well enough to work full time.

We Hate Our Meds and What They Do to Us

Every severe asthmatic had a love / hate relationship with prednisolone. It’s great, it makes us feel better, but then it ruins my skin, I get covered in spots, it causes me to pile on weight, it weakens my bones, we bruise easily, don’t even talk about sleep.

Then there is our lovely salbutamol nebs, they clear our airwaves and in return dehydrate us, give us the shakes, cause headaches and set our hearts beating faster than is healthy for us.



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  1. Fiona MacDonald 12/04/2017 Reply
  2. Cami Parron 13/01/2018 Reply

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