What Is It Like To Have Asthma?

Asthma Impacts People In Different Ways

Asthma and Anxiety
Asthma and Anxiety. Brand X Pictures

What is it like to have asthma?

It depends.

If you are not an asthmatic you may not know what it feels like to have your breathing impaired.

If you have asthma you may want to be able to let others know what it is like to have asthma and cannot put it into words.

Different people have described asthma to me in different ways. Here are a few of the ways asthma has been described to me and how asthma impacts them:

  • I feel like a fish out of water. (In fact, an asthma public service announcement describes asthma in just that fashion.)

  • Coughing and wheezing all the time. My airway feels as though it is getting tighter— like breathing through a filtered straw. I have never done this but I am told that breathing through a straw simulates the sensation. I just can’t get a full breath of air no matter how hard I try. It is almost like I am drowning without water.

  • I just can’t get air into my lungs and feel like I can’t take a deep breath.

  • I do not think I have full blown asthma. I just feel like I can’t get my breath.

  • It feels like trying to take a breath underwater.

  • Have your little sister sit on your chest and try to breathe. Each breath is hard, but the next one is even harder.

  • It feels to me like falling and getting the wind knocked out of you. The difference is that when that happens you feel better in a few minutes. I feel like that for hours. No matter how calm I keep myself or no matter how hard I try, I can’t get enough breath.

  • Go out and run 100 yards as fast as you can. How you feel at the end is how I feel a lot of the time.

  • I cough all the time and am always tired. I can’t get enough sleep, so I am dragging all the time.

  • It’s a bad cough that never seems to go away.

For some people, asthma was really scary and caused a lot of anxiety or even depression.

For others, the ability to overcome and gain asthma control was really empowering.

  • Asthma made me really scared. Not knowing when I might start feeling bad or when I might have a hard time breathing was really frightening. Sometimes being scared was worse than the problems I had breathing. Before I got control I felt depressed and would avoid doing things with people.

  • Not knowing where your next breath is coming from is scary. I felt as though I was suffocating and everyone was using up all the air.

  • Surprisingly, asthma lets me know what I could do when I put my mind to it. Once I realized there was a lot I could do to control my asthma, I was less anxious. With my asthma action plan, I almost felt like I knew as much about my asthma as my doctor. Planning gave me a piece of mind and I was less anxious.

People with asthma tell me there are different things that make it hard:

    Why not share what asthma feels like to you?

    What Is Your Biggest Asthma Problem?

    We want to help you get control of your asthma. I want to hear about your biggest asthma problem so that we can try to help you develop a solution or better understand how to help.
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