We all react differently to life's experiences - and the same goes for having asthma. People can feel a range of emotions about their asthma - from fear and distress, to relief at finally getting a diagnosis and confidence that they now understand how to manage their symptoms.
How you feel about your asthma often depends on where you are on your asthma 'journey'. You might feel bad about your asthma when you first find out you've got it, but OK with it later on, once you've got used to it and learned how to manage it well. There might be months when your asthma doesn't get in the way at all - and then key moments when it does: symptoms flaring up or an asthma attack which knocks your confidence. For the small percentage (about five per cent) of people living with severe asthma, the emotional challenges can be even greater.
You might find it helpful to read other people's experiences.
Whatever you're feeling about your asthma, you're in the right place for support, advice and motivation.
Just been told you have asthma?
Whether you have asthma yourself, or if you're a parent who's just found out your child has asthma, you'll be keen to get answers and reassurance.
Getting an asthma diagnosis can be a shock. You might feel scared and worried about how it will affect you, and resent having a long-term condition to deal with. But sometimes a diagnosis can be a starting point for getting on top of it and moving on with your life. Perhaps you don't feel positive now, but with time, support and advice you can get there. Whether you're worried about an asthma diagnosis and what it means, or motivated to get to know as much as you can, we have lots of information for people just getting to grips with an asthma diagnosis.
Coming to terms with it
"I thought I'd got away with it so it was a shock to discover I had asthma. My mum had it and I saw how hard it was for her. What helped was finding a consultant who realised how I was feeling and how it was affecting me, and knowing that meds and treatments nowadays are much more effective than they were in the past. I do have ups and downs and I am still trying to come to terms with it! But I'm doing my best to focus on what I can do and not on what I can't." - Ann, 59
Keep asthma in the background with a good asthma routine
"I found my asthma diagnosis very depressing. But all I can say is if you get into a routine of taking the medication, having regular reviews and avoiding triggers you should stay reasonably well and not have to think about your asthma at all." - Christine, 63
Scared of asthma attacks?
An asthma attack can be a shock to the system - perhaps you were feeling OK about your asthma and a flare-up of symptoms has made you lose confidence. If you have a child with asthma and you've seen them struggling to breathe it's understandable if you feel scared and worried that it will happen again. Often people think an attack is going to come out of the blue - which makes it even more frightening. But most of the time there are signs and symptoms to look out for, and a written asthma action plan can help you do this.
After an asthma attack it takes a bit of time to get back your confidence - but with the right support, and the right medicines, you can feel more in control of your asthma again.
"After a while I realised I can live with asthma and live well, not perhaps in the way I dreamed of, but when I stop panicking and look at the problem logically I can cope and be happy, and not let asthma dominate my life." - Christine, 63
"I doubt that I will ever be totally free of asthma but I have a confidence now that the condition is controlled and will not hinder me in any future pursuits." - Doug, 62
Sometimes, once you've recovered from it, and the shock has passed, an asthma attack can be a wakeup call and you can feel a real determination to avoid it happening again.
Get tailored advice on how you can cut your risk of an asthma attack by taking our asthma attack risk checker.
Living with asthma
Perhaps it feels like asthma's just one more problem you have to think about every day. For some people asthma symptoms are a day to day frustration.
If you're feeling like asthma's holding you back from living life the way you want to live it, find out how tried and tested tools and medicines are helping people live a life that's symptom free.
Even for people with asthma that's difficult to control there are lots of things you can do to get on with your life, whether its 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.
Do the best you can to stay on top of your asthma
The good news is that with good asthma management most people can get on with their lives with no symptoms at all. Find out the best ways you can manage your asthma so that you're in control of it and it's not in control of you. It'll probably involve having an inhaler you're comfortable using, taking it regularly and in the correct way, and following a written asthma action plan so you know exactly what you need to do to stay well with your asthma, but also know what to do if symptoms come back.
It might be comforting to know that evidence tells us that using a written asthma action plan means you're less likely to end up in hospital with your asthma, and our action plan for children reassures parents that their child's asthma is being looked after.
Asthma doesn't need to take over your life. Being organised and getting into a good routine of taking your asthma medicines can help. You've come to the right place to learn all you can about your asthma - look around our website and find out about the medicines and treatments you've been prescribed for your asthma, the best way to look after it, and what to do about triggers.
Asthma medicines have a great track record and are a safe and effective way to look after your asthma
Joanne finds her asthma symptoms frightening. When she was first diagnosed with asthma as a teenager she wasn't given any advice about asthma and how to take her medicines properly. Now she's grateful for the medicines that help her and knows how important it is to take her inhaler regularly:
"When my asthma's bad, or I've had an asthma attack I'm very frightened and anxious. Getting given stronger medications or oral steroids that helped me breathe again made me so thankful that I live in an era where these medicines are available. I never miss an inhaler dose and like to thank it every day for helping me breathe!" - Joanne, 31
Keeping fit and well
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, it's going to be good for your asthma. With the right support and the right asthma 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!
Don't let asthma hold you back
"I'm not too happy at the moment as I am unable to do the things I used to such as exercise classes and hiking/bike riding. I'm working on it though and still manage to do swimming! I won't rest until it's sorted and I can do these things without asthma holding me back. Swimming is great and helps me feel mentally and physically better with my asthma." - Joanne, 31
Find answers and support here
And if you're finding it hard to move on from negative feelings, we have lots of ways to manage stress, anxiety and depression, or you can talk it all through with one of our asthma nurse specialists by calling 0300 222 5800 (9am - 5pm; Mon - Fri).
Last updated January 2016
Next review due January 2019