10 Tips to Help Someone Cope With Asthma

John Bottrell Health Pro
  • Other than suffering from one yourself, there’s little worse than watching someone suffer from an asthma attack.  Lacking preparedness, a feeling of helplessness may envelop you.  However, when you’re prepared, you’ll be a big help when you’re needed most.  Here are 10 tips to prepare you to help a person suffering from asthma.


    1.  Educate yourself about asthma.  Perhaps the most important thing you can do is simply to read as much as you can about this disease.  There are many books, magazines, websites, and blogs dedicated to this disease, and a great place to start is right here.

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    2.  Learn the asthmatics about asthma triggersAsthma triggers are microscopic substances in the air that are innocuous (harmless) to most people, but which can trigger an asthma attack in an asthmatic.  Examples include dust, mold, tree pollen, grass pollen, animal dander, cockroach urine, smoke, and pollution.  Quite often, avoiding asthma triggers is all that is needed to prevent asthma, and getting away from them is the best way to end an asthma attack.  


    3.  Learn the asthmatics symptoms of asthma.  The neat thing about asthma is it displays early signs, cues or symptoms that an asthma attack is oncoming, is here, or is in the severe stages.  By knowing these symptoms, you should be able to help the other person recognize what is happening so they can refer to their asthma action plan as to what to do next.  


    4.   Learn about rescue medicine and where it is kept.  Most asthma experts recommend every asthmatic keep a rescue inhaler or nebulizer nearby at all times.  This is medicine that can quickly end an asthma attack.  Most men keep theirs in a pocket, and most women in a purse.  Some asthmatics keep the medicine in a bedside table or closet, and others in the medicine cabinet.  Schools also have various rules as to where such medicine is stored.  So know where the rescue medicine is kept so you can help the asthmatic gain quick access to it.  


    5.  Learn about asthma action plan.  An asthma action plan is a plan that helps an asthmatic decide what action to take based on the symptoms present.  You should know where this plan is located so you can help him comply with it.  Ideally, such plans should be easily located, such as on a refrigerator or pinned to a bulletin board.


    6.  Know how to help the asthmatic follow the plan.  Show the person their asthma action plan, and help them follow it.  This will probably require taking puffs of an inhaler, or taking a breathing treatment.  It will probably also require using a peak flow meter. Based on symptom monitoring and peak flow results, the plan will help decide what action to take. If they're too sick to follow the plan, then you may have to take action on their behalf, which may include calling 911.


    7.  Encourage the person to seek help.  A common problem for many asthmatics is not knowing when to seek help, or waiting too long to seek help.  Such apprehension is a common sign of worsening asthma. It comes from the anxiety of the attack, and from the fear of being a bother to other people.  By reassuring this person that it’s okay to seek help, you may just help save a life.  


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    8.  Always offer encouragement.  The neat thing about asthma is that, while there is no cure, it can be controlled, and asthma attacks prevented.  In order for this to happen, however, an asthmatic must see a doctor on a regular basis and take their medicine exactly as prescribed, especially when they're feeling good.  So the best way you can help is to encourage them to see a doctor, take medicine, avoid asthma triggers to the best of their ability, and to follow their asthma action plan when needed.  


    9.  Avoid bullying. It’s always tempting to make fun of, or bully, the asthmatic who is breathing funny, wheezing, sniffling, or sneezing.  Along with being socially unacceptable, such bullying may lead to loss of confidence, stress and anxiety that may lead to worsening asthma.  So instead of being a bully, it’s better to offer support and, if necessary, encouragement to seek necessary help.  


    10.  Always offer support.  The hardest part about being an asthmatic is fitting in because there will be some actions taken by others, or places other people go, that an asthmatic must avoid to maintain good control.  For instance, an asthmatic may not be able to run as fast as you, or may not be able to enter a home with cats and dogs.  It’s always good to support the asthmatic in their efforts to maintain good control.


    Don’t be stuck on the sidelines when a friend, family member, coworker, or student needs your help.  By following these 10 tips, you can rest assured you will be a big help when that someone needs you most.  

Published On: April 08, 2014