Social life when you have severe asthma

Here are some ideas to help you keep your social life on track

Do you ever turn down social events, parties and evenings out with friends and family because of your severe asthma? Or feel you miss birthdays or big events like weddings because of your health?

In an Asthma UK survey, 70% told us that severe asthma gets in the way of their social life. Everyone’s asthma is different, and the effects can change over time as well.

You may find severe asthma only affects your social life from time to time, and doesn’t often stop you doing the things you enjoy with your friends and family. Or it might have a bigger impact, and stop you going out. Here’s what some people with severe asthma have told us: 

  • “It’s impossible to be spontaneous when your life revolves around medication.” 
  • “I have to think about the location when I’m planning an event or outing in case my asthma is triggered.” 
  • “Severe asthma affects my confidence and has had a big impact on my social life.” 
  • “I feel isolated and lonely when I miss out on social events because I’m in hospital.” 

How severe asthma can affect your social life 

You may find severe asthma only affects your social life from time to time, and doesn’t often stop you doing the things you enjoy with your friends and family. Or it might have a bigger impact, and stop you going out. 

You may feel…

  • Bored and frustrated when you miss out on social events because of symptoms
  • Worried friends and family will give up on inviting you out because you often have to cancel
  • Sad that you can’t do the same kinds of things that others can
  • Anxious about going out in case you have symptoms or even a potentially life-threatening asthma attack
  • Isolated if you can’t manage to see friends and family very often
  • That it’s too much of an effort to go out, even on a good day. 

Although you may need to stay in when you’re having lots of symptoms or if you’ve recently had an asthma attack, having severe asthma doesn’t have to mean missing out on social events altogether. Putting some easy steps in place can help you make the most of good days so you can enjoy time with friends and family. 

Look after your asthma

What’s most important is to make sure your severe asthma’s as well-managed as possible. Even if you still have some symptoms, looking after your asthma will give you the best chance of being able to enjoy a social life. 

You may not always be able to do everything you want to do – some people take all their medicines and still experience symptoms – but at least you’ll know that you’re not letting your symptoms make things more difficult than they need to be.

Severe asthma: feel more confident about going out

People with severe asthma tell us they often find it hard to relax and enjoy social occasions because they worry about having symptoms, or feel embarrassed about using their inhalers in public, and don’t want to be a burden on others. If you feel this way, you may start to avoid going out altogether and should think about speaking to your healthcare professional about how asthma is limiting your life. 

They could help you feel more confident about managing your symptoms by:

  • Answering any questions you have about staying safe when you go out
  • Checking your inhaler technique to make sure you’re getting the most benefits from the medicines
  • Reassuring you that you’re already looking after your severe asthma as well as possible, which can boost your confidence. 

Plan ahead to enjoy your social time

If you’re taking lots of different medicines at different times of the day, or wondering how to keep your energy levels up for an event, planning ahead is key. It means you can relax and enjoy yourself when you get there. 

  1. Pace yourself
    If you have a big social event such as a wedding coming up, try to save your energy by resting as much as possible beforehand. Only do the most essential tasks and try to break them down into chunks so you don’t get too tired.  

  2. Make a medicines checklist  
    Make it easier by writing a checklist of all the things you need whenever you go out or go away overnight, for example, your:

3. Add reminders on your smartphone, or set an alarm to nudge you to take your medicines when you’re out. 

Tell friends and family how severe asthma affects your social life

If you’re worried that you annoy friends and family when you have to cancel or say no to invitations, try these tips:

  • Take some time to talk to them honestly about how severe asthma really affects you. We have lots of tips on our Explaining severe asthma page
  • Ask them to read our What is Severe Asthma? page to understand that the condition is completely different from the kind of asthma most people have.
  • Ask them to be part of your support team when you’re out – take a photo of your asthma action plan on your smartphone and email it to close friends and family so they know what to do if you have symptoms.  

Severe asthma: turn your home into your social hub

No matter how well you manage your severe asthma, sometimes symptoms will get in the way. When you have lots of symptoms and very little energy, try to think of other ways you can still enjoy social events.

  • If you have to miss a big event, once you feel better perhaps you could ask a few of the other guests to meet for drinks and show you their photos. 
  • Why not invite friends round for tea and cake or a takeaway at times you can’t go out?
  • Stay in touch online through Skype and Facebook so you can chat and joke with people even if you’re at home
  • Talk to other people with severe asthma on our forum – it can help you to feel supported and meet new people who might understand just how you feel. 


Last updated February 2019

Next review due February 2022