Asthma

Advice to others

We asked people what messages they would give to others from their experiences. A key message echoed by many interviewees was that although it might seem daunting to be diagnosed with asthma at first, particularly if you’ve experienced a serious asthma attack, you can control it rather than letting it control you. Nicola said, "It doesn’t have to take over your life", David’s advice was "learn to control your asthma and you can live a full life" and Eileen said, "It need not inhibit you in any way. But you have to make sure that you’re diagnosed, that you have the proper medication and that you take it." People were keen to point out that asthma need not interfere too much with your life if you take the right steps to manage it. They recommended that anyone diagnosed with asthma should be proactive and try to find out as much information as possible to help understand it, because as one person said ‘knowledge is power’.
People told us what they felt was important to enable somebody who was newly diagnosed, or had badly controlled asthma, to get to the stage where they could feel in control of things including:
 
  • work with the GP and asthma nurse or other health professionals to find the right medication for you
  • learn how to manage it yourself
  • be proactive and ask questions if you don’t understand
  • learn how to use inhalers correctly
  • try to find out what your triggers are so that you can try to avoid them
  • ask for help if symptoms change or get worse
  • go for regular reviews at the asthma clinic
  • always take the medication
  • be organised
  • make sure friends and family know how to help if you have an asthma attack
  • try to keep calm if you are having difficulties breathing

and make a few lifestyle changes (e.g. stopping smoking or losing some weight) if necessary to give you a better chance of controlling your asthma.
While people often mentioned taking a positive attitude, several also pointed out that this did not mean treating as asthma as trivial. Being aware of how serious it can be if not well controlled can help motivate people to make sure they manage their asthma effectively.

(Also see ‘Managing asthma – reviews and action plans’ and ‘Medication and treatment-inhalers’).

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