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4 Things People With Asthma Are Tired of Hearing

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Kerri MacKay is living with asthma. In this article, she lists a few things she is tired of hearing from people who don’t have the condition. She also offers ways to respond to those comments.

It can be quite frustrating to get unsolicited advice regarding a medical condition you have if it comes from someone who is not qualified to give it.

If you’re living with asthma, you’ve likely experienced this many times. Though people usually mean well, they may not be educated about your condition. Besides it being irritating, it can be misinformed or even hazardous to your health.

Whether it’s coming from a family member, friend, or someone you’ve just met, the following comments are things people with asthma are tired of hearing from others. Here are a few tips on how to reply.

1. Oh, asthma is just in your head!

Some people may believe that asthma is the result of a psychological condition, but that is not true. Anxiety and stress can worsen your symptoms, but they’re not the cause of them. Asthma is a real medical condition.

How I respond:

“Actually, it’s in my lungs!” If people aren’t educated about asthma, I help them to learn. I often say something like, “Asthma is a lung condition. It causes my airways to become swollen and constrict in response to certain triggers that people without asthma don’t react to.” I try to name a few of my triggers and tell them how I manage my symptoms.

2. Maybe you’re just anxious

Asthma and anxiety are entirely different conditions. While someone with asthma may also have anxiety, and while there may be some connections between the two, one is not caused by the other.

How I respond:

Of course, if you’re having trouble breathing, you might feel anxious too. I try to express that without being curt by letting them know how constricting it can feel to live in constant fear of another asthma attack. I might try something like, “Well, I do feel anxious, but that is because asthma is a medical condition that causes trouble breathing. It’s like my lungs don’t work properly, and that is a scary feeling.”

3. Oh, I knew someone with asthma. They were hospitalized a few times because of their condition.

If someone is living with asthma, the last thing they want to hear is negativity. Hearing stories about someone who had a terrible experience because of their asthma will likely scare them. They’re probably trying as hard as they can to have a positive outlook.

How I respond:

“I’m sorry to hear about your friend’s asthma. That’s why it’s so important for me to stay on track with my treatment and visit my doctor regularly. The good news is, these days there are lots of ways to manage asthma. A lot of people who have the condition are able to live pretty normal lives.”

4. I read about natural treatment for asthma online. Have you tried any alternative therapies?

I have a hard time with questions like this. While some people may experience relief from their symptoms through alternative treatment, but personally, it’s not for me.

How I respond:

If you’re like me and you aren’t interested in exploring the world of alternative medicine to help with your asthma, you can say something like, “Thanks for sharing that with me. For now, I’m going to trust my doctor to point me in the right direction.”

Article resources

The individual(s) who have written and created the content in and whose images appear in this article have been paid by Teva Pharmaceuticals for their contributions. This content represents the opinions of the contributor and does not necessarily reflect those of Teva Pharmaceuticals. Similarly, Teva Pharmaceuticals does not review, control, influence or endorse any content related to the contributor's websites or social media networks. This content is intended for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered medical advice or recommendations. Consult a qualified medical professional for diagnosis and before beginning or changing any treatment regimen. 

NPS-ALL-NP-00829 MARCH 2023

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