Finding out that you have any chronic health condition is always unsettling and the same goes for asthma. From the very moment you hear the diagnosis, a ton of questions just starts popping up in your head including how your condition will affect the lifestyle you’re used to, whether you’ll need to implement any changes and how painful or different it would be.
Here we will try to answer those questions for people who just found out they have asthma. We compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions in those situations and did our best to provide you with suitable answers.
Without further ado, we wish you luck in your treatment, and now, let’s dive into the topic!
What’s on this page?
Can I continue my regular exercise routine?
So, you are a sports type? It’s always unsettling when you feel like you’ve been leading a healthy lifestyle for so long only to be surprised by a condition such as asthma. But, the good news is that in general, you can continue with your preferred physical activities without any additional problems!
However, depending on the severity of your conditions and the usual asthma triggers you react to, you might still need to introduce some precautions. For example, you should always warm up prior to exercising or engaging in sports, especially if you are planning to exercise in the cold weather – the difference in temperature can often be enough to trigger an asthma attack. You might also need to use a preventer inhaler prior to exercising in order to ensure that you won’t experience an attack. Finally, as you start to get used to living with asthma, you will notice that some exercises work better for you than some others. You should keep notes on these observations and manage your asthma action plan and exercise routine accordingly.
For asthmatics, anaerobic exercises like tennis or volleyball include short bursts of physical exertion and these might be preferable to sports such as football or running which require a longer period of activity. However, there are no strict rules when it comes to this as every individual will respond differently to certain types of physical ability. The only rule applicable to all is that you should engage in that type of sport that suits you bests and causes no issues for you.
Do I have to change my eating habits? Asthma and diet
While some asthmatics do react to different foods they consume, it is not that common and a large percentage of people diagnosed with asthma can keep their dietary habits. However, for those whose symptoms are triggered by good allergens, some changes will be necessary – more specifically, explicitly avoiding contact with those foods that cause an allergic reaction and subsequently an asthma attack. The most common food triggers include:
- Milk and dairy products
- Food containing sulphates
Will I have to change job or the place where I work?
As long as you’re not diagnosed with occupational asthma, you can continue with your work as usual. Occupational asthma is a sub-type of this condition where the onset of asthma attacks is brought on by exposure to triggers in the workplace such as dust, fumes or chemical vapours. So, while employers cannot discriminate against people diagnosed with asthma, some jobs can be detrimental to your health and should be avoided. In addition, some high-intensity and high-stress occupations such as fire brigade or armed forces cannot be practiced by asthmatics. Yet, even these occupations are considered safe for asthmatics provided that you hadn’t experienced an asthma attack in over four years.
However, even if you can keep your usual job without any additional risks to your health, your asthma diagnosis will lead to some changes in your work environment and routine. Maybe you’ll require changes in the way air conditions are set up as to avoid dried air, or maybe you’ll need to take time off in order to deal with your health problems. In any case, the best option is to openly discuss these questions with your manager or HR department to learn about company policies surrounding this potential changes.
Finally, if you feel comfortable enough, it would be good to inform your employers and co-workers about your condition so they will know how to react in case you experience an asthma attack at work.
How will asthma affect me in the future when I get older?
Not only short-term changes and risks can be of interest for people who have recently been diagnosed with asthma. Many will start thinking what it will mean for their lives in the long run. In addition, some people might develop asthma at an older age, which can be very stressful, especially if some other conditions are already present.
Late-onset asthma, also known as adult-onset asthma is often difficult to diagnose as it is very similar in its symptoms with other illnesses of the respiratory system, especially emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD for short.
In addition, as you grow older, you will notice some changes in your asthma symptoms, but there are no rules when it comes to this. For some, ageing will bring on an improvement in conditions and reduction of severity and quantity of asthma attack, while for others more severe symptoms might developed, such as worsened shortness of breath, lower efficiency of medications and appearance of new asthma triggers.
In case you notice any of these changes, it is very important to talk to your doctor as soon as possible so your treatment can be modified accordingly.
Can I get governmental support?
Long-term chronic conditions are not only stressful because of the impact they might have on your hobbies or usual everyday activities – they can also put additional strain on your finances. With the costs of prescription medicines and travelling from and to the hospital, at first, it might seem as though you would need a complete reorganization of your budget.
If you live within the UK, you can rely on Personal Independence Payment (or PIP for short) which has replaced the previous Disability Living Allowance (DLA), a government benefit program for people living with a long-term disability or health condition. Additional information can be found on the PIP website.
The government support will be made available to you if you are on a low income or receive financial help already. If that is the case, you will probably be provided with additional benefits, including free prescription medicines, such as Ventolin.