LET’S TALK ABOUT ASTHMA: TIPS FOR STARTING A MEANINGFUL CONVERSATION WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS

The Next Breath Editorial Team

March 2020

TIPS & RESOURCES

Life with uncontrolled persistent asthma can be tough, but so can talking about it! That’s why we’ve gathered these tips to help you start a meaningful conversation with family and friends.

For many people, living with uncontrolled persistent asthma has an impact on personal relationships.1 If you feel like this could be you, one potential solution is to start a conversation with family and friends about your asthma in order to help them better understand how it really impacts your life.

Having a conversation may sound simple, but we understand that it isn’t always easy to know how to start or what to say. That’s why we’ve gathered some tips from patient groups and online resources to help you talk with your loved ones about your experience and ways they can best support you.

  • Get a solid understanding of your disease. Even if you have already researched your asthma, you may still have unanswered questions. Try researching any questions you have before initiating a conversation so that you feel empowered to talk confidently about your disease. Research doesn’t just mean reading on the Internet – your healthcare provider is an essential resource for any questions you have and advice on how to talk with others. And if your family and friends have questions that you can’t answer, consider researching them together.
  • Set aside time to talk about your asthma. Whether that is taking a friend out for coffee, booking some time with a colleague during work or asking your family to be fully present by turning off electronic devices, make sure your conversation is first and foremost about you and your asthma.
  • Explain what living with severe asthma means to you. Unfortunately, and despite the name, many people do not recognize the severity of the disease and the full impact it may have on your quality of life.2 All too often, symptoms are brushed off as ‘just asthma’ or people wrongly believe that you simply need ‘a few puffs on an inhaler’.3 This can be both unhelpful and potentially dangerous. You can help dispel myths about asthma control by outlining exactly which areas of your life – from activities to sleep quality – severe asthma impacts and how this makes you feel.
  • Discuss your external triggers. If you know what your triggers are, then let your loved ones know, too. This way they can take steps to avoid exposing you to them. It might be that your birthday flowers become chocolates instead.
  • Talk about your asthma action plan. An asthma action plan is a personalized plan that provides tailored information about how you can best get your asthma under control. By letting your family and friends know that you have one, they can help you stay on track. You might also like to consider discussing the most important parts of your action plan with those who are close to you so they know how they can best support you – for example, what are the symptoms they should look out for, and how should they help. If you don’t already have an asthma action plan, you can talk with your healthcare provider about developing one.
  • Everyone has the capacity to help. You’re not alone – even young children can be sensitive to your emotions and actions so it may be valuable to discuss your asthma with them and explain why you might not be able to do certain things.
  • It’s ok to reach out to a support group – whether in person or online – so that you feel connected to people who can empathize with what you are going through. Others with asthma may be able to offer emotional support and share new information or solutions to challenges you may be struggling with.

By choosing to speak about your asthma with family and friends, you are taking significant steps towards helping everyone have a better understanding of the disease. And if you haven’t already had a conversation with your healthcare provider, now might be the best time to start. Check out this Rethink Your Asthma magazine on talking with your healthcare provider.

References

  1. 1. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. My Life with Asthma Report. Available at https://www.aafa.org/media/1684/my-life-with-asthma-in-2017-survey-findings-report.pdf. Last accessed February 2020.
  2. 2. Rabe, K. F., Vermeire, P. A., Soriano, J.B., Maier, W.C. Clinical management of asthma in 1999: the Asthma Insights and Reality in Europe (AIRE) study. Eur Respir J. 2000;16:802-807.
  3. 3. Asthma UK. Explaining Severe Asthma To Other People. 2019. Available at: https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/severe-asthma/making-life-easier-severe-asthma/explaining-severe-asthma/. Last accessed February 2020.

Date of Approval: March 2020 | SAGLB.AST.20.02.0295

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Moving the future of asthma forward, together

Working together, we can bring more awareness to severe asthma,
illuminate the latest science and empower people to take action
to strive for better asthma control.

Start using your next breath today to inspire others to get informed and
check back soon to find more ways to get involved.

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