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It’s Okay To Remind People You Have Asthma.

It’s Okay To Remind People You Have Asthma

I have allergies and asthma. I had it horribly bad as a kid. Mom sat with me hundreds of times in doctor’s offices. Dad drove me to ERs so many times I can’t even count. And, I will say it here, I still have to remind them sometimes I have it. And I’m fine with it. And they’re fine with it.

Seriously, folks.

If you don’t have it, you forget.

It’s no knock on the other person. It’s just the way our minds work. If you don’t have it, you’re wired to think everyone can breathe normally like you. It’s just the way it is. Same thing with allergies.

So, the kids and I had a weekend off. We thought it would be neat to spend a few nights at grandma and grandpas (mom and dads). The kids were off playing. Mom, dad, and I were sitting at the bar in the kitchen. We were bantering about the old days.

At some point the conversation, as it so often does, segued to the weather. On this particular day, it was 90 degrees with 80% humidity. It was hot. The air was stale and heavy.

Mom (a great asthma mom, by the way) said, “It seems like every time you come here it’s scorching hot. I think you and the kids should sleep in the basement. It’s nice and cool down there. I think that would be perfect for you.”

This triggered a rash of horrible asthma memories. That basement down there started many of my worse asthma attacks when I was a kid. It’s dusty and musty down there, as many basements are. We often would play. This would stir up those invisible dust mites.

They never bothered my brothers. The invisible dust mites, I’m talking about. But, for me, inhaling those buggers triggered horrible asthma attacks. I’m talking type #1 here: the kind where it feels you can only take in half a breath if that. They were horrible.

Sometimes I dealt with them on my own. But, so many times mom or dad drove me to the local emergency room. One of them would sit with me for hours. That was long ago. But, those same triggers are down there. Even though my asthma is 100% better controlled now, I certainly don’t want to take any risks.

So, a friendly reminder is in order.

I smoothly said, “Mom, that basement triggered some of my worse asthma attacks when I was a kid. I don’t think that would be a good idea.”

“The basement?” She paused, as though pondering what I had said. “Oh, yeah, I can’t believe I forgot,” mom said. “Well, you can sleep in your old room.”

It didn’t bother me that mom forgot. It didn’t bother mom that I reminded her. And I do think it was right by me to remind her.

I have learned, by my own experiences, that it’s okay to remind people you have asthma.

My dad’s (a great asthma dad, by the way) not off the hook either. He forgets probably more so than mom. But, a friendly reminder now and again is needed. For instance, dad smoked cigarettes back in the day. One day he lit up while I was in the car.

“Dad,” I said, “Um, did you forget I have asthma.”

“That’s okay, the window is open. I’ll let the smoke go out the window.”

“Dad!!! I can still smell it in the car.”

“Oh!” dad said, putting out his cigarette.

It didn’t bother me that dad forgot. It didn’t bother dad that I reminded him.  And I do think it was right by me to remind him.

Of course, I’m putting my parents on the spot here. I hate to do this. But, this is a teaching moment.

My brothers aren’t off the hook either. They saw me struggle when I was a kid. They know I have allergies. They know I have asthma. But, they too sometimes forget. And, when the need arises, they get a friendly reminder as appropriate.

No big deal. No offense taken.

I have never run into a problem when I’ve reminded people.

Most days it doesn’t matter if people forget. Most days I don’t need to remind people. But, sometimes the need arises. Sometimes people need a friendly reminder. And, it’s my job to remind them. Why? Because we asthmatics are our own best advocates. I am my own best advocate.

You are your own best advocate. Do you ever find you have to remind people? Let us know in the comments below.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • lauren08
    9 months ago

    Any suggestions for reminding coworkers? I hate to be a broken record but I have coworkers who will put lotion on while sitting next to me, burn candles in our office and spray febreeze everywhere. When these things happen my day becomes twice as hard and I almost always have to go home and right to sleep.

  • John Bottrell, RRT moderator author
    9 months ago

    Hi. Lauren08. You are definitely not along in experiencing this. I am going to assume that you already talked to your coworkers. If you haven’t done so already, that would be a good place to start (friendly reminders may also be in order, as people without it tend to forget). Another strategy may be to share articles, such as the one attached below. Others on the site have used this strategy with good success. Will that work you think. John. Site Moderator.

  • Ozark Yankee
    9 months ago

    I have a brother(my only sibling) who smokes. He smokes in the car, if he is driving. He knows I have asthma(his wife has severe pulmonary issues). Next time, I WILL remind him I have asthma and I can smell the smoke even if the window is open.

  • John Bottrell, RRT moderator author
    9 months ago

    If he loves you, he should understand. Sometimes a friendly reminder is needed. John. Site Moderator.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    9 months ago

    Hi Ozark Yankee and good luck. Between your asthma condition and your sister-in-laws ‘severe pulmonary issues’, he really should be more receptive. Good luck! Leon (site moderator)

  • Shellzoo
    9 months ago

    I have a relative who thinks asthma is all in my head, it is not that bad, I should not limit my activities, my allergies are not real. I figure they can be reminded or find out the hard way when my asthma flares in their presence. Because asthma is usually invisible, they have no idea how bad it can get. They don’t understand people die from asthma daily. They have no idea that their dog, perfume, cigarette smoke etc are triggers. My job is to take care of myself. My relative can think what she wants but I plan to keep my asthma controlled and my breathing easy.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    9 months ago

    Hi Shellzoo and thanks for taking the time to respond to John’s article. You keep doing what you’re doing (taking care of your condition)! If you can educate your relative(s) along the way, all the better! Leon (site moderator)

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