people talking about symptoms of asthma like cold and fragrance sensitivity, sleep problems, and fear

Community Views: The Lesser-Known Side Effects of Asthma

Last updated: May 2023

When most people think about asthma, they think about asthma attacks and inhalers. However, this diagnosis is so much more than that. Not only does it have emotional impacts, but it also changes people’s everyday lives in ways that are often unexpected.

We turned to followers of our Facebook page and asked community members to share with us. More than 600 people responded. Here are some of the lesser-known effects of asthma that some of you face.

Having trouble laughing

For many people, asthma makes laughter uncomfortable. Laughing often leads to coughing, which can trigger an asthma attack. What should be one of the joys of life ends up being a stressful, often triggering situation.

“I cannot laugh without the worry of an asthma attack. Then I start coughing, and my thoughts shift from what was so funny to if I am OK, do I have my meds, etc. It is embarrassing.”

“Coughing fits when I laugh too hard.”

Causing difficulty sleeping

Sleep should be the time when the body heals itself and recharges for the next day. People in the asthma community shared that they often struggle to get a good night of sleep because their asthma keeps them up. For some, it is because they are coughing, while others cannot sleep because of tightness in their chest.

“I wake up in the middle of the night with just a tightness in my lungs, without coughing or wheezing, but it makes breathing uncomfortable and more difficult.”

“Having to sleep on the couch or upright.”

“When you are just about to fall asleep after a long day and your chest gets tight and you have to get up to use your inhaler.”

“Mostly the nighttime coughing that keeps me from sleeping.”

Dealing with fragrance sensitivity

Perfumes, fragranced lotions, cleaning products, room fresheners. and many other products with smells can be huge asthma triggers. Unfortunately, it seems that the general public does not understand that this issue is not simply a "preference" thing. Rather, these fragrances can alter the entire day for someone with asthma, especially if they have just had an asthma attack.

“Some folks do not understand the seriousness of my sensitivities to fragrances and not being able to breathe!”

“Resenting inconsiderate people who love perfumes and particulates. Then my angry anxiety also triggers my asthma.”

“Not being able to breathe from smells or a certain fragrance.”

Facing sensitivity to cold air

Some people outside the asthma community are not aware that cold air can trigger asthma symptoms. However, many of those living with the condition are all too familiar with how the cold, dry air of winter can easily bring on an asthma attack.

“Sensitivity to cold air. I spend most of the winter cooped up indoors.”

Dealing with fear

People who do not have asthma often do not realize how challenging it is to live with. A handful of community members shared just how much it scares them to live with asthma. Asthma can have very serious consequences, which is a cause of fear for many people. If you are concerned about your asthma care plan and keeping your symptoms under control, talk to your doctor. They can help you develop a plan that is right for you.

“Having kids and being scared for my life.”

A special thanks to everyone in the asthma community who shared so openly and freely on this topic. We are grateful to hear from so many. What lesser-known side effects of asthma have you experienced? Share in the comments below!

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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.

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