Patient Blogs | Asthma
Asking for Help When You Have Asthma
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When it comes to getting help with asthma, there are two situations in which you might find yourself reaching out to others (or wanting to):

1. When you're having an asthma flare-up or attack

2. When you need emotional support or understanding

Because asthma is an invisible disease (meaning others can't always see it), it's not always easy to get help. The truth is, it's OK and sometimes necessary for people with asthma to learn to get comfortable with asking others for help.

How to Get Comfortable With Asking for Help

If you're anything like me, you don't like to ask for help. For many years, I viewed my asthma as a weakness.

Throughout life, I couldn't do some of the things other kids could do. Certain sports were off the table, and I was almost always sick during certain times of the year. So I didn't feel normal. And asking for help only shined a light on the fact that I wasn't like everyone else. But when I did find my voice, in adulthood, I was much more comfortable speaking freely about things like needing my inhaler, taking a break from activities, or protecting myself from illnesses (like COVID).

In a way, it was liberating.

When to Ask for Help

I learned that I needed to put my insecurities aside and, at times, reach out to others for help when I had flare-ups, or even when I was simply feeling down about my asthma.

And it didn't take long to realize there were friends and family who understood better and were more than happy to help if I needed it.

Those were the people I surrounded myself with.

Asthma can be dangerous if ignored, and it's tempting to pretend an attack isn't happening to save face or to prevent a flare-up from interrupting a good time. But a good rule of thumb, for me, is to ask for help when my rescue inhaler isn't within reach or isn't working for me.

I also like to alert trustworthy friends of breathing problems when they first start. That way, if things do go south, they know what's happening and can take action. Good friends won't scoff or roll their eyes, they'll be concerned and ready to help.

How to Ask for Help With Asthma

First, it's important to know that the people you’re asking for help from are understanding and trustworthy.

Always reach out to these people first. But if you're in unfamiliar territory, or there isn't anyone nearby who you know, it's important to have the confidence to ask a stranger for help.

This is where an asthma ID necklace or bracelet might also come in handy. For example, if you can't speak due to an attack, you can show your asthma ID to the good Samaritan and they can act appropriately.

But, if you can speak, find someone who you feel safe with, explain what's happening, and don't be afraid to ask them to call 911.

Who to Ask

As mentioned, it's easier to ask for help from someone you know and trust (and who understands your asthma).

If you're having an attack, seek out someone you feel safe with to help you. Here are some ideas:

  • Supervisor
  • Co-worker
  • Classmate
  • Store clerk
  • Security officer
  • Law enforcement
  • Event manager

On the other hand, if you need someone to talk to about your asthma, and how you're feeling emotionally, consider a close friend, a fellow person with asthma, an asthma support group, a religious figure, or seek out a life coach or counselor. Doctors can be great people to talk to, but their time is often limited, so consider a backup helper.

There are many great resources out there for people with chronic illnesses, and it's extremely important to understand that you aren't alone when it comes to asthma. And there's nothing to be ashamed of.

In short, ask for help when you need it … it’s perfectly OK.



Photo Credit: 10'000 Hours / DigitalVision via Getty Images

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Amanda Pieper

Amanda Pieper

Diagnosed since 1987

Amanda has lived with asthma for 39+ years. She was diagnosed at age 5 and has been an advocate for others with chronic illnesses online and in her community. She owns a small farm in Wisconsin and is a freelance writer at Copy by Amanda Pie and an empowerment coach for people who have asthma. Her passion is helping them feel understood, believed, and empowered to live life without limits.

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