If someone came to me today and told me they were just diagnosed with asthma, I would have to take a step back and think about the best way to comfort them. Because, in truth, they’ll need it.
Asthma can be diagnosed at any age. But the sentiment would stay the same no matter what. I can’t remember how I felt when I was diagnosed, but I do know what it feels like to have intense empathy for newly diagnosed individuals.
To me, it’s like we’re a part of a family. A family that has a common bond that no others can even begin to understand.
With that being said, the best advice I can give would be as follows:
Learn as much as you can. The first thing I’d say to someone recently diagnosed with asthma is to do their best to understand how asthma works. More importantly, how their specific asthma works. And, unfortunately, this is something that may evolve over a lifetime.
Knowing the inner workings of asthma goes a long way when preventing attacks. Always be learning.
Surround yourself with those who care. There is nothing more important than the support of loved ones. You’ll find people who don’t understand asthma, don’t want to understand it, or don’t believe asthma even exists.
You’ll also come across people who claim they have asthma and they’re fine, so why aren’t you?
You’ll encounter people who do have asthma, but it behaves differently than yours, so they might try to call your bluff and make you feel weak for suffering.
But the truth is, everyone’s asthma is different, and it’s not to be taken lightly. People who love and care for you will understand that and will be eager to learn and help you.
Keep those people close and ignore the rest.
Always have a plan. Know what your triggers are and always have a plan. This probably means never leaving the house without a rescue inhaler. But also, know what you’ll do if:
You come in contact with a trigger
You feel your asthma flaring up
Your rescue inhaler isn’t helping
You get an upper respiratory illness
Having an action plan can help you stay ahead of an attack and keep asthma anxiety under control.
Never assume you're cured of asthma. There have been periods of time in my life when my asthma seemed dormant. I would go for a few months without any sign of it. Of course, I always hoped it would go away as I aged (something the doctors mentioned could happen). But, for me, it always reappeared.
That doesn’t mean it can’t go away, but the truth is, there’s no cure for asthma right now, and even if your asthma is well-managed, you can’t ever assume it’s completely gone.
Because that one time you think you’re cured and leave your inhaler at home, that’ll end up being the time asthma shows up again. Don’t let your guard down. It’s easy enough to take your inhaler along.
Advocate for yourself. Always. Not everyone will understand your asthma. And not everyone will care about your health. So you have to be the one to protect yourself. Even doctors can miss the mark when it comes to understanding the variances in different types of asthma. (I’ve been there.)
Additionally, peer pressure can be challenging, but chances are, your peers aren’t going to be the ones in the hospital with you after an asthma attack.
Stand up for your health and fight for it with passion. You’re your biggest advocate.
Photo Credit: thianchai sitthikongsak / Moment via Getty Images
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