Ten More Things Not To Say To Someone Living With Asthma

Two years ago I wrote a post titled, “Things not to say to someone with asthma.” That post was well received by this community. Many of you commented. You shared your ideas. I collected these ideas. And here they are.

Here are ten more things not to say to asthmatics.

  1. “Stop clearing your throat!!!” It’s funny (well, not funny) that you mention throat clearing. A co-worker and I both have asthma, and we are both constantly clearing our throats. We kind of just joke about it. Once as she was leaving our office, she quipped, “Well, I have to go do some work. When I get back, we can continue clearing our throats together” It’s kind of nice to know that other asthmatics experience the same sort of things. But, it’s not something we can control.
  2. “Are you contagious? This one sort of speaks for itself. No! I am not contagious. We are not contagious. You cannot catch asthma. Nuff said!
  3. “We’ll vacuum the house and put the animals in the other room. You’ll be fine!” Really? Like, that animal wasn’t in that other room before? Animal dander is left behind by your dog. That’s what we’re allergic to. You can’t see it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not in the air in that room — or in the carpet, or on the bed. A similar one is, “I have a hypoallergenic dog. You should be fine at my house.” Really? If that’s the case, then why do my son’s eyes swell shut when he’s at your house?
  4. “A humidifier will help.” Actually, a humidifier makes the air thicker and harder to inhale. This can often make breathing more difficult. Humidity is good if you have croup, though. But, asthma is not croup.
  5. “But, you’re still coming to work, right?” Ummm. If I can’t breathe, NO!!!
  6. “But, you’re not wheezing!!!” Ummm! It doesn’t matter that I don’t have a wheeze. I’m still short of breath. I’m still coughing my brains out. Besides, many asthmatics don’t wheeze. It’s normal for asthmatics not to wheeze. Some asthmatics wheeze and some don’t. You certainly can’t diagnose on a wheeze alone.
  7. “If you relax you’ll be fine.” Or, “Calm down, it will go away.” Or, “Take a Xanax.” Really? If only it was that easy. If it was all in my head that would be true. But, asthma is not all in your head — it’s in your lungs. It’s a real physical medical condition.
  8. “Your oxygen sats are good, so you’re fine.” I actually heard that once when I woke up after my nose surgery. I asked the anesthesiologist for my rescue inhaler. He said, “You don’t need it. Your sats are fine.” Well, my sats are always fine. This is a classic example of treat the patient, not the number.
  9. “You’re just out of shape!” I wish it was that easy.
  10. You don’t look sick.” So, are you accusing me of lying? So, now I can’t breathe and I have to defend myself. No fair! Asthma is an invisible disease. We may look normal, but we still have it. We may look normal and still feel short of breath. If we had broken legs you’d see the cast. But, you can’t see asthma. You just have to trust me when I say, “I’m having trouble with my asthma today.”

So, these are some of your comments. And, yes, I have experienced all of these too. So, it’s kind of neat how we asthmatics think alike. If you can think of more, please share 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 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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