We asked people what messages they would give to others from their experiences with asthma.
A key message echoed by many interviewees was that although it might seem daunting to be diagnosed with asthma at first, particularly if you’ve experienced a serious asthma attack, you can control it, rather than letting it control you.
Nicola said, “It doesn’t have to take over your life”; David’s advice was “learn to control your asthma and you can live a full life”, and Eileen said, “It need not inhibit you in any way. But you have to make sure that you’re diagnosed, that you have the proper medication, and that you take it.”
People were keen to point out that asthma need not interfere too much with your life if you take the right steps to manage it. They recommended that anyone diagnosed with asthma should be proactive and try to find out as much information as possible to help understand it, because as one person said “knowledge is power”.
Jan’s message to others is to find out as much information as you can, and take advice from health professionals about how to manage it yourself.
Alices advice is to try to be active proactive rather than passive, that’s a good motto for anything in life. [AUDIO ONLY]
Susan says, You can live a normal life with it. It doesn’t have to rule your life. Her advice is to go back and see the GP if you are still getting symptoms regularly, and be aware of your triggers. [AUDIO ONLY]
Peter says it’s important to work hand in hand with the GP to find the right treatment; be prepared to experiment a bit.
When somebody is newly diagnosed or has badly-managed asthma, there were things that people told us they thought were important to get them to a point where they could feel in control. These things included:
- Working with the GP and asthma nurse or other health professionals to find the right medication for you
- Learning how to manage it yourself
- Being proactive and asking questions if you don’t understand
- Learning how to use inhalers correctly
- Trying to find out what your triggers are so that you can try to avoid them
- Asking for help if symptoms change or get worse
- Going for regular reviews at the asthma clinic
- Always taking the medication
- Being organised
- Making sure friends and family know how to help if you have an asthma attack
- Trying to keep calm if you are having difficulty breathing
- Making a few lifestyle changes if necessary to give you a better chance of controlling your asthma, e.g. stopping smoking or losing some weight.
Belinda suggests carrying an asthma attack card on you to give people around you information on how to help in an emergency, and put an ICE (In Case of Emergency) number on your mobile phone. [AUDIO ONLY]
Jenny has severe brittle asthma and is often in and out of hospital. She recalls the first time she went in to A&E as an emergency, but now the hospital staff and paramedics know her and what she needs.
Melissa’s message is always ask if you don’t know. It’s important to make sure you understand the medication and how to use it.
Dees advice is’ you can make a really big difference to your experience of this yourself..working hand in glove with people who know a lot more about it than you do at the asthma clinic.
For Margaret the most important thing is to ensure that you are taking the medication correctly and regularly. It’s just part of the morning and night routine, before you clean your teeth, you take your inhaler.
While people often mentioned taking a positive attitude, several also pointed out that this did not mean treating asthma as trivial. Being aware of how serious it can be if not well-controlled can help motivate people to make sure they manage their asthma effectively.