Don't Waver! Seek Help for Bad Asthma

by John Bottrell Health Professional

So you're an asthmatic and your asthma is getting worse. Your rescue medicine isn't working and you feel short-of-breath just sitting there reading this. If that's the case, you need to take action right now. Quit second guessing yourself and seek help -- call your doctor or go to the ER.

Hey, I've been in your shoes before. You are not alone, and not the first asthmatic to waver on what to do.

Before I became a gallant asthmatic there were way too many occasions in the past when my asthma made my breathing miserable, and I kept second guessing myself as to whether or not I should call my doctor (or tell my parents when I was a kid) or have someone take me to the ER.

There have been many times -- in fact more than I can count -- where I
was miserable and just stayed home and toughed it out.

In retrospect, staying home and suffering was stupid. The only person I was punishing was myself. In a way, I was playing the role of martyr. This was goofus asthmatic behavior to the extreme.

I can think of many reason why I was hesitent to seek help (perhaps you can relate):

  1. The doctor will think I'm stupid for coming to see him

  2. The doctor will lecture me for letting my asthma get out of control

  3. The doctor will be annoyed that I'm bothering him

  4. The doctor will accuse me of abusing my rescue medicine

  5. I can just tough it out

  6. I can self treat myself with medicines I have at home

  7. My asthma isn't bad enough to need a doctor

When I was really little, another reason for not going to the ER was because I didn't want to bother my parents. Yet that too was foolish. In life, there is little more important than getting air into your lungs. If you've ever been short of breath before, you know exactly what I mean.

If you can't breath, even if it's just mild shortness of breath, do something. Take some form of action. Follow your asthma action plan if you have one. Call your doctor. Go to the emergency room. Do not just stay home and think your asthma will get better. That's a game not worth the risk of playing.

I got lucky all the times I toughed it out -- darn lucky. I never should have thought twice about seeking out help. And the same goes for you or any asthmatic for that matter.

Better yet, you shouldn't even wait until your asthma is bad to start thinking about
seeking help. Untreated, asthma can get worse and worse over time. If you can nip it in the bud, you can prevent it from getting worse. If treated early enough, you could probably just see your doctor and he can give you
a corticosteroid boost
and you can get better at your home.

Yet please don't suffer with uncontrolled asthma.

Here are some reasons you should never be afraid of seeking help:

  1. No one will think you are stupid for seeking help, in fact just the opposite. You will be hailed as a responsible asthmatic -- a gallant asthmatic.

  2. Your doctor will not lecture you because your asthma is acting up. If anything, he will know now how bad your asthma can get so he can properly treat you in the future to get your asthma in better control.

  3. I have never met any medical professional who got mad because an asthmatic came to the doctor's office or ER. In fact, we want you to come in, and the sooner the better. We have seen what happens to asthmatics who wait to long. So we want you to take action as soon as you notice your early warning signs of asthma.

  4. Your doctor may accuse you of abusing your rescue medicine. So what? If you're using it more than prescribed, you should call your doctor anyway. This is one of the first signs your asthma may be getting worse, and you should take action.

  5. Thinking that you can tough it out is a bad idea. In fact, I think that this type of thinking is what results in most asthma related deaths.

  6. If you are thinking your asthma is getting worse, chances are what you have at home is not enough to get you better.

  7. Your asthma does not have to be really bad to seek help. Even if you just think you need help with your asthma you should seek it immediately.

Anytime any asthmatic
emails or asks me for advice on what to do for worsening asthma I
say the same thing: call your doctor or go to the ER. If I told you to stay home and something happened, I'd never forgive myself.

Believe it or not, I've had asthmatic friends come to me asking me to give them a breathing treatment. When I ask them why they don't just go to the ER, their excuses are eerily similar to the ones I listed above.

With few exceptions, I usually insist they seek the help they really need. If you're going to seek my help and my advice, then I'm going to insist you do something other than waver and hope some miracle is going to happen to make you breathe better.

Look, the moral here is that you should never dink around with your asthma. Work with your doctor on developing an asthma action plan so when you are in such a predicament you know exactly what to do.

And don't think that just because your asthma is fine now that nothing will ever happen. That's one of the problems with asthma is that it can appear to disappear, and then all of us sudden it shows it's ugly head and, if you don't have a plan, you're forced to waver over what you should do.

Wavering in itself can be dangerous, and swift action can prevent worsening asthma.

As a matter of fact, this topic reaches so close to home with me I even wrote a sharepost a while back about it. Based on my own experiences as a patient and as a respiratory therapist, I wrote: Having asthma symptoms? Here's five tips to help you decide what to do.

Look, if you're to the point you have to seek the Internet for advice when to go to the ER,
then chances are you should already be on your way. So heed my advice: Do not waver
Seek help if you need it. Get your lungs working better.

Trust me. You will not regret it.

John Bottrell
Meet Our Writer
John Bottrell

John Bottrell is a registered Respiratory Therapist. He wrote for HealthCentral as a health professional for Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).