Stigma of having asthma- is it gone now?

I grew up in the 50s and 60s and spent much of the time trying to hide my asthma (which was severe, so it wasn’t easy). No one else I knew had asthma, except some family members. The going theory at that time was that asthma was psychosomatic- it was all in your head! Even one of my grandmothers thought that. It has taken me a long time to admit in public that I have asthma because of this. I started talking about it because so many more children are diagnosed with asthma now. I want parents of children to know there is good treatment and controlling medications now, so their kids don’t have to be in and out of the emergency room so often, but also how dangerous it is to ignore.

I just wondered if anyone else experienced the “shame” of asthma growing up?

Poll

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.

Comments

View Comments (8)
  • PaagaLouisa
    2 months ago

    Believe me I have tasted the hardaches of growing n ignored asthma, n it is not a pleasant feeling at all. Trust me!

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    2 months ago

    We hear you, PaagaLouisa, and appreciate what you have to say. Thanks for your input – we understand! Leon (site moderator)

  • John Bottrell, RRT moderator
    8 months ago

    Hi Katbird. I grew up about 20 years after you. The psychosomatic theory was being phased out. But, still, theories like that are slow to melt away in the medical profession. I was told my asthma was caused by anxiety during my stay at an asthma hospital in 1985. We were told that there was a real physical component of asthma. But, that old psychosomatic theory lingered a long time. And, I definitely made an effort (albeit feeble) attempt at hiding it. Plus, I never would talk about my stay there. Blacked it out for nearly 20 years — until I started writing about it. We are true testaments to life before modern asthma wisdom and medicine. As you say, most people with asthma should be able to obtain ideal asthma control in today’s world. John. Site Moderator.

  • John Bottrell, RRT moderator
    8 months ago

    Oh, one more thought. Here is some of my story in case you’re interested. John. Site Moderator. https://asthma.net/living/my-story-the-pithy-version/

  • yjacobs
    9 months ago

    Yes, I am 58 and have had asthma since I was under 5! Same thing here always tried to hide it. I now have things on my upper right lobe not going away!

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    9 months ago

    Hi yjacobs and thanks for this post. Are you being treated for and/or under a doctor’s care for the right upper lobe issue you mentioned?
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • juliet
    10 months ago

    I think I shamed myself. Telling myself it was all in my head. I was first diagnosed in the early 70s and I didn’t want to be the kid that carried around the primetine mist canister!

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Thanks for your post, Katbird. It wasn’t ‘shame’ as you described it, but more a bit of embarrassment at not being able to do everything when an attack struck. I did learn early on (in those years) that asthma seemed to be divided into intrinsic or extrinsic asthma. I thought you might find it interesting to look over this article on that very topic: https://asthma.net/living/extrinsic-vs-intrinsic/. When it comes to the ‘psychosomatic’, or anxiety being a cause – well, we’ve learned a lot more since then as well. I think you’ll find this article sheds more light on that particular concern: https://asthma.net/living/anxiety-and-asthma-whats-the-deal/.
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Poll