Loving a person isn’t easy. Love is a choice: committing your time, dedication and care to that certain person in your life, understanding and accepting them for who they are and staying by their side as they go through the tides of life. When loving a person with asthma, the situation is more delicate and calls for greater sensitivity towards their feelings and emotional needs.
With severe asthma, your daily life is muddled with incidents of breathlessness; you’re constantly troubled by the possible threat of an asthma attack, coupled with recurring hospital admissions despite heeding medical advice and medication. Every asthmatic episode further increases a person’s psychological suffering, with common feelings including: fear and anxiety, denial and feeling a loss of control.
As someone loving a person with asthma, you can do things to ease their struggle with asthma and to be that pillar of support they can rely on in their time of need. Here are 15 things to remember if you love a person with asthma:
1. They want you to know how to help them during an asthma attack
Defined by the World Health Organization, asthma is a respiratory condition that is present in all age groups, but typically starts in childhood. This condition has the distinctive quality of frequent and repeated attacks of breathlessness and wheezing, which again is specific to every individual. As each asthma case is unique, it’s important to identify the best way to assist your loved one when they are faced with an impending asthma attack, or ongoing series of asthma attacks.
Check their sitting position. Get your loved one into a comfortable sitting position as it is easier to breathe sitting up rather than lying down. This will aid your loved one in having increased and regular air flow into their lungs, assisting them to recover faster.
Be clear about their personalized response to asthma attacks. Be conscious of whether they use an inhaler and if so, where to locate it in the event of an attack. If your loved one has severe asthma, in most situations their medical consultant would have provided a card with instructions.
Where they don’t use an inhaler, record down their emergency contact somewhere convenient for your reference.
2. They want you to be sensitive
One of the consequences of having asthma is being limited to activities that are not strenuous (this can vary depending on the severity of asthma). Not all people are aware from a young age that they have asthma. For those who are only conscious of it at an older age, this can suddenly create hiccups in their everyday life, especially for those people who are involved in highly strenuous sports or an active lifestyle.
In cases like these, people require some time to adjust and accept their new lifestyle. Be sensitive with them during this road to acceptance, encourage them, and help them to realize that their asthma will not define their life. It is up to them to decide how their life pans out, and with your sensitivity and guidance, it can be a brighter and better future.
3. They want you to be understanding
Be understanding to your loved one. There are limitations to what they can do with their condition and because of their asthma, they might choose to do things in a different way than others would. Remember that your loved one is a different person from you. You cannot expect them to do things that you want to do, or to live their life in the way you would want them to. The beauty of love is that you accept them for the decisions they make. You accept them because you love them and it is no different with someone who has asthma. Make a greater effort to appreciate their style of thinking and accept the range of activities that they can do. Get them what they need, for example an air purifier for asthma. Where possible, don’t pressure them to over-exert themselves as ultimately this will be detrimental for both their health and your relationship.
4. They want you to be aware
Be aware about the frequency and pattern of your loved one’s asthma attacks. Also, learn how to read their warning signs. Ask your loved one about their previous experiences and take note of their usual triggers and the regularity of their attacks so that you will be able to support them and anticipate potential problems.
5. They find it easier to feel comfortable when you are knowledgeable about their condition
Do research and learn more about your loved one’s respiratory condition. By educating yourself about asthma, not only are you more knowledgeable about the illness but you become better equipped at dealing with the illness as well. Go online and read up about natural asthma remedies such as herbs and natural dietary supplements, read about your loved one’s medication and the possible side-effects that may occur. Read up widely on people who are asthmatics and how they have struggled and conquered their battle with asthma so you can learn to offer great support to your loved one. Famous people who have experienced asthma include: Elizabeth Taylor, Jason Alexander, Diane Keaton, and Martin Scorsese.
6. They want you to think about how your illness could impact them
Having asthma means that a person is more susceptible to respiratory illnesses and when they do contract the illness, it can create significant health problems for them. As such, if you are ill with a cold or the flu, even though these appear to be non-serious conditions to the everyday person, they can actually be a life-threatening illness for asthmatics. If your illness could threaten their health, keep away.
7. They want you to be positive and encouraging
One of the psychological effects of asthma is its detrimental impact on self-esteem. Especially in cases of more severe asthma, these people tend to have negative body image which leads to alienation from close friends. Even where they do have an asthma action plan or their asthma isn’t obvious, it’s not something that they include in their self-introduction or reveal to the people that they have known for a short period of time. The decision to tell their friends about their asthma often requires deep contemplation and they usually wait for a period of time until they are convinced that they can trust that person with their secret.
Most people with asthma are even more doubtful about dating. They’re hesitant because of their fear of being a burden to their significant other, their fear of not being accepted, and their fear of not being good enough for the other person because of their asthmatic condition. If you are in a romantic relationship with a person with asthma, encourage them. Assure them that you accept and love them fully. Show them that you love them and will always be their rock in times of need. Inspire them to look to the future with hope and love. Remember to express yourself not just through words, but your actions too.
8. They want to be kept away from smoke
Smoke is hazardous to everybody, but even more so for asthmatics. Avoid smoking or putting your loved one in situations where they are exposed to second hand smoke. Research has suggested that passive smoking may actually be more harmful than the act of smoking itself. The smoke that is produced at the end of the cigarette is created from far more harmful substances than the chemicals in the smoke inhaled at the front of the cigarette. For asthmatics, second hand smoke can trigger symptoms like wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath which are incredibly painful experiences.
9. They benefit from dust-free surroundings
Where possible, strive to rid your home of asthma triggers. Dust mites, mould, pets, cockroaches and daily household irritants are the main sources of asthmatic triggers. By removing these triggers, you can help to decrease the rate of asthma attacks your loved one experiences, lowering stress levels, pain and suffering.
If you wish to remove dust mites from your house, you have to keep your house clean. Some suggestions include: swapping your pillow and mattress covers to allergen-proof and zippered covers, washing your bedding in hot water at least once a week to kill germs, and to make sure that you keep your house neat and tidy, free from clutter.
To prevent mold and mildew from appearing in your house, some suggestions include: removing any indoor plants, layering your walls with a mold inhibitor when painting, and frequently airing the areas of your house which are usually damp and humid.
To prevent insects from entering your home, make sure that you close all windows and open garbage shoots, giving them no entrance into your home. Another option is to purchase thin netting that you can layer over your windows so that flies and cockroaches are not be able to enter your home, whilst ensuring you still have ventilation in your home.
You can also buy cockroach traps or baits and put them near the garbage shoots, doors or anywhere else they are likely to enter from. Try to avoid insect sprays as these contain strong chemical products that could be highly detrimental to your loved one’s health. If you do use these sprays, ensure that you use them whilst your loved one is not at home and to air out your home for a few hours before their return.
10. They probably want you to wear less perfume/cologne
To most of us, wearing perfume or cologne is a daily ritual and we don’t really take the time to stop and think of what these strong chemical fragrances can do to our loved ones with asthma. Perfumes and colognes are one of the more common triggers for asthmatics. Perfume and perfumed cosmetic items can contain many toxins, with some medical professionals believing that these chemicals can have disastrous effects on reproduction and the risk of acquiring cancer.
For people with asthma, perfume or fragrance products will irritate their lungs. They may also have an allergic reaction which can lead to dangerous asthma attacks. Thus, when with your loved one, refrain from wearing perfume or using fragrance products as well as visiting locations like beauty or perfume retail shops.
11. They can experience health problems caused by stress
Typically, some stress is beneficial for a person since it encourages greater productivity and pushes a person to develop character. However when coping with asthma, unrestrained or extreme anxiety can exacerbate the respiratory condition. For people with asthma, stress can result in a myriad of problems such as insomnia, irritability, anti-social behavior and depression. Increased stress is also directly proportionate to the level of asthma symptoms like wheezing, coughing and panic attacks. This in turn creates further stress; such a vicious cycle can have devastating effects on your loved one’s health.
To prevent these catastrophic effects, you can help your loved one to combat stress through encouraging them to eat a healthy diet, practice breathing exercises, engage in exercise, get better rest and focus on positive thinking. Motivate your loved one to live a stress-free life.
12. They can benefit from light exercise
Light exercise benefits people with asthma. Through exercise, their lungs and bronchial tubes will be stretched and expanded, creating larger, clearer airways and reducing the resistance in breathing. Light amounts of running (even barefoot running) can be helpful.
13. They can benefit from a healthy diet
A healthy diet is essential for managing an asthmatic condition. Try to incorporate foods containing higher amounts of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids, for example, as these foods contain antioxidants which prevent cell-damage. Take care to avoid high-calorie diets, figure out your loved one’s food allergies, and take note if your loved one is allergic to preservatives in order to prevent and reduce the frequency of asthma attacks.
14. They don’t want you to make assumptions
Haven’t you heard of the saying, “when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me”? Assumptions about asthma or even about your loved one’s journey with asthma can be risky, inaccurate and hurtful. Don’t make assumptions about how your loved one thinks, how they feel and how they are coping with their situation. Although there are times where our assumptions are right, most of the time, they are incorrect and negative. Show your loved one some courtesy by asking them what they really feel instead of assuming or interpreting their actions or words through blurred vision. Negativity will hurt your relationship and we must strive to eliminate these potential obstacles wherever possible.
15. They want your love
Show love to your loved one. Find out what your loved one’s love language is and how they would prefer you to extend a helping hand or offer support. Make them their favorite foods when they return home from a long hard day, sort out the household chores for them so that they can rest and relax when they return from work, or even introduce them to your friends and important figures in your life so your loved one truly knows that they mean something to you. True, genuine acts of caring are the most important methods for demonstrating your love.
Scientific studies have long proven that loving relationships are beneficial for a person’s health. When in a relationship with someone, the both of you take care of each other and you are each other’s inspiration for living a better life and becoming a better person. Remember these 15 things, but don’t get too caught up in the specifics. As long as you love and are committed to them and your relationship, that’s more than enough.
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