We all react differently to life’s experiences – and the same goes for having asthma. People tell us about a range of emotions about their asthma (or their child’s asthma), from relief at finally getting a diagnosis after having symptoms for a long time; to fear and anxiety about having another asthma attack.
“How you feel about your asthma often depends on where you are on your asthma ‘journey’”, says Sonia Munde, Head of Helpline at Asthma UK.
“You might not feel great about your asthma when you first find out you’ve got it, but OK with it later, once you’ve got used to it and you’ve learned how to manage it well.”
For the small percentage (about 5%) of people living with severe asthma the emotional challenges of dealing with symptoms every day can be greater.
Here we look at some of the emotions you might be experiencing around your asthma, and suggest some ways you might feel better.
Getting an asthma diagnosis came as a shock
Whether you have asthma yourself, or you’re a parent who’s just found out your child has asthma, you’ll probably be looking for answers and reassurance. And yes, it can come as a shock to be told you have a long-term condition.
You might be scared about how asthma will affect you, or worried about taking asthma medicines every day.
The good news is you’re in the right place to find answers to all your questions and concerns about asthma. And once you get the hang of looking after your asthma well, with the support of your GP or asthma nurse, you should feel more confident about things.
“Perhaps you’re not feeling positive now, but with time, support and advice you can get there,” says Sonia Munde. “Sometimes a diagnosis can be a starting point for finding out as much as you can about asthma and getting on top of symptoms. And please don’t forget to call our Helpline.”
I’m scared – asthma attacks terrify me
An asthma attack can be a shock to the system, and a real knock to your confidence. Whether it’s yourself, or your child struggling to breathe, it’s a scary experience. And it can take some time to recover.
But there’s a lot you can do to cut your risk of an attack, as well as plenty of support and medicines to get you back on track if you do have an asthma attack.
Make sure you always carry your reliever inhaler with you so you’re confident you can deal quickly with any symptoms.
“Often people think an attack is going to come out of the blue – which makes it even more frightening,” says Sonia. “But most of the time there are signs and symptoms you can look out for, so that you can do something before they build up. Your written asthma action plan is a great way to do this.”
I’m worried asthma’s going to stop me getting on with my life
If you’re one of the 5% of people with asthma who have severe asthma, symptoms are a day to day frustration.
“If you’re feeling like asthma’s holding you back, find out how tried and tested tools and medicines are helping people live a life that’s symptom-free,” says Sonia.
“Even for people with asthma that’s difficult to control, there are lots of things you can do to get on with your life. That might mean making sure you’re getting good support, understanding what your triggers are, getting motivated to keep fit and healthy, or knowing what to ask when you go to your asthma review.”
I’m depressed - I don’t want to have a long-term condition to think about
Being told you have a long-term condition can be hard. And it’s quite common for people to feel depressed about it, particularly if they have severe asthma. It’s also understandable to feel fed up and resentful about having to take asthma medicine every day.
The good news is that if you follow three simple steps you can to keeping asthma in the background, and look forward to a life that’s pretty much symptom free:
- Get into a good routine of taking your preventer inhaler every day as prescribed
- Use a written asthma action plan to cut your risk of symptoms and an asthma attack
- Go to your regular asthma reviews so you can check you’re on the right medicine and taking your inhalers in the right way, and keep your action plan up to date
I’m frustrated I won’t be able to keep fit because of my asthma
Some people find that having asthma holds them back from doing any kind of exercise. And it can trigger symptoms for some people.
But if you like keeping fit and want to stay active there’s plenty of evidence to say this will actually benefit your asthma.
So, however you decide to keep fit and well, whether it’s giving up smoking, walking to work, taking up a sport, or keeping yourself at a healthy weight, there’s no need to let asthma stop you. And in fact, it can be good for your asthma.
“With the right support and the right medicines, most people with asthma can do the things they enjoy, whether that’s gardening, hitting the high street with friends, or even raising money running marathons!” says Sonia.
Asthma doesn’t need to take over your life
You’ve come to the right place to learn all you can about your asthma. Find out about how the asthma medicines work away in the background to keep you symptom-free. And explore our living with asthma section to find out how you can get on with all the things you enjoy without asthma getting in the way.
You can also read about other people’s experiences of asthma.
Whatever your questions or concerns about asthma, our asthma nurse specialists are just a call away on 0300 222 5800 (9am-5pm; Mon-Fri). Or you can WhatsApp them on 07378 606 728.
Last reviewed January 2019
Next review due January 2022