1 in 20 people with asthma have severe asthma

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 weddings, parties and evenings out with friends because of your severe asthma?  

In an Asthma UK survey, 70 per cent 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 on occasion, 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 altogether. 

Here are some of the things people with severe asthma told us in the survey: 

“It’s impossible to be spontaneous when your life revolves around medication.” 

“When I’m planning an event or outing I have to take the location into account 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 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 what 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 – but don’t let symptoms make things more difficult than necessary.

Feel more confident

People with severe asthma tell us they often find it hard to relax and enjoy social occasions because they worry about having symptoms 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. For example, they can answer any questions you have about staying safe when you go out, and check your inhaler technique to make sure you’re getting the most benefits from it. And if you’re already looking after your severe asthma as well as possible, they’ll be able to reassure you, which in turn can lift your confidence. 

Be prepared

If you’re taking lots of different medicines at different times of the day, sticking to your medicines routine can be tricky when you’re going out. Remind yourself, though, that taking time to plan ahead before you go means you can relax and enjoy the occasion when you get there. Make it easier by writing a checklist of all the things you need whenever you go out or go away overnight, for example, your:

You could also add reminders on your smartphone, or set an alarm to prompt you to take your medicines when you’re out. 

Be open with friends and family

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

You could also send them Asthma UK webpages to read – our What is Severe Asthma? page could help them understand that the condition is completely different from the kind of asthma most people have. They could help you manage your asthma when you’re out – make copies of your written asthma action plan for close friends and family so they know what to do if you have symptoms. 

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. 

Find alternatives

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. For example, if you have to miss a big event, when you feel better perhaps you could ask a few of the other guests to meet for drinks and show you their photos. 

At times you can’t go out, why not invite friends round for tea and cake or a takeaway? And make sure you stay in touch online through Skype and Facebook. Lots of people with severe asthma also find it helpful to chat on our forum – it can help you feel less isolated when you can’t get out and about. 

Last updated December 2016

Next review due December 2019