a pyramid of people supporting each other

Asthma Support Network

Having an asthma support network is effective for feeling in control of my asthma, my emotions, and my self-care. I have had asthma my entire life, beginning as an infant. Asthma treatment in the 1950s and 1960s was completely different than it is today. Now, as an adult, my asthma episodes are better controlled because medications have improved, and I am better prepared. Even being prepared during an asthma flare in adulthood, I still struggle with my emotions. Family and friends do not always understand my anxiety or how and why my interactions with them change. Also, the medication causes issues, you know that pesky Prednisolone and its unwanted side effects, as well as the nervousness and shaking from the Albuterol. Because asthma episodes often make me feel anxious, frightened, and not in control, I am always looking for better coping skills.

Last year I learned actionable steps for social support to succeed with a program I was participating in. What I learned had nothing to do with asthma, yet I immediately realized I could utilize those steps to help me in my asthma management. Having a support system in place is a brilliant way to help me manage asthma flares and putting the support system in place before needing it set me up for success. Because I have pre-arranged everything, all I need to do is reach out to my designated support person when needed.

My asthma support network

The types of support I utilize include emotional, instrumental, informational, companionship, informal, and formal support. I cannot expect one person to meet all my support needs, so I have reached out to different people in my life. I may not utilize all of the people or all types of support at the same time; however, I know I can.

I find emotional support from people who I know I can talk to, and who encourage me. In other words, someone who fulfills my emotional needs. Instrumental support is tangible and practical support, someone who can help me with chores or cooking, or the activities that wear me out when breathing takes my energy. Sometimes when I have asthma, between lack of breath, coughing, and medication, my brain does not work as well as it should, so having people who can provide information, guidance, and advice to help me stay on track is essential. Having someone to talk to about treatments, asthma triggers, or medication changes is imperative.

I live alone so having companionship, someone to just hang out with, when I am not feeling well or limited in my activities is comforting. Arranging for a friend to stop by for a cup of coffee or to watch a movie is nice when I do not have the breath to do anything else. I have also found support groups, informal, and formal support, in a variety of locations. Online sites like asthma.net and social media have both private and public options. I find these sites to have a plethora of information but am very careful to do additional research for any new information I come across. Finding one-on-one formal support takes some effort, but if I decide I need that kind of support to help me live a better life with asthma, I will take the time to ask for referrals, research, and make contact.

My physician is also part of my support network and I talk with her about options for my self-care. For example, when I spoke to my new asthma doctor about the chronic cough that I had had for years even when not having an asthma flare, she gave me a referral to a speech therapist. Although confused about how that could help me, I made the appointment. The speech therapist showed me several techniques to utilize, and low and behold my chronic cough ended after just a few weeks!

What to consider when getting support

Building a well-rounded support network helped me feel in control of my asthma self-care. When planning your asthma support network, think about who might be able to fill these support roles. Consider how close you are to them and what their personalities are. An important point for me was to be very clear with my requests so the person I was going to be depending on fully acknowledged and accepted their role. Asking for help did not mean I was not capable; it meant I needed support. If you plan ahead, you too can have an asthma support network in place and ready when you need it. Do you already have a support system in place? Be well!

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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 Asthma.net 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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