Asthma UK community forum
9,867 members16,631 posts

Scared to go out!

Hello, I am relatively new to Asthma which I developed 18 months ago after giving up smoking. It started mildly but I now have acute attacks every 4/6 weeks. I cannot drink ANY alcohol (sob), eat certain foods (pickled onions being one of my favourites) or go anywhere there is smoking.

We rarely go out because our friends all go to pubs/social clubs, and it's not worth the 4 hours in hospital with nebulisers. The last attack was after my friends wedding, there was no one smoking but as we left at 11.30pm I walked out into the cold air, coughed a couple of times, felt a bit tight, used my pump then couldn't breath or talk.

We have now been invited out to a casino which I have been told is not smokey at all and has air conditioning. I am absolutely dreading it. My husband is so looking forward to it (it's his friends birthday) If it's smokey I'll have to leave immediately and when I go back out into the night air I'll have to cover my mouth. Does anyone else feel like this? From being a sociable, happy go lucky person I am now becoming paranoid, miserable and almost housebound.

Please help!

7 Replies

I am in a similar situation to you - cold air, smoking and air-conditioning set me off. If I really want to go out then my GP will prescribe me 30mg of prednisolone which I can take a couple of hours before the big event and stops most of the acute reaction. Normally I just stay home and try not to get too depressed - easier said than done.


i know what you mean,at first i wouldnt even leave the house,

but now i do get out,

it can still seem very scary though,

i think it helps alot if you have friends that are there to help and support you,

i always aviod smokey places anyway ( every where),

i think you will find there are alot of people that feel like you so your not alone.

have you spoken to your doctor about it? i would go and see him if i was you

take care

mel xxxx


First all all chat to your Dr or asthma nurse about this and 2nd I have posted below an open letter I wrote to my family recently (and posted here I have coped it to save yoy wading through everything) it kind of sums up not letting asthma rule me (hopefully without being too pretentious I think those who have met will agree that the letter pretty much does reflect my attitude to my asthma). My asthma is about as unstable as 2 legged table but I still must have a life or I would go crazy

Best of luck and hugs


I am still me.

I still have the same sense of humour, and that wicked sense of fun, I still love life I just get pleasure from different things these days. I still get lots of fun from being with family and friends, but you don’t have to wrap me cotton wool. I am a bit slower and things take a little more planning. I have asthma, asthma does not have me. I may not run the party these days I may not even be the life of it but I can and will be the soul.

I know I have been very ill over the past couple years and I guess I have scared you all. It scared me but it made me realise how precious life is, and how much more I want to do. I am so lucky I have skied on Christmas day, I have SCUBA dived in beautiful Mediterranean waters and I have spent days out just rambling on the moors, I can’t do those things now and the odds are I never will but at least I have done them.

I am not going to be down hearted about the things I can’t do, in honesty there is little that with a bit of planning I can’t achieve. I want to be able to go out shopping with my daughter, I want to take my kids to watch football. I want to visit grandad as often as I can and hopefully he can teach me to become a better bridge player. I want to lunch with my Mum and my aunt, I want to see my children do well at school and I want to be a granny (in many years time). I want to be old enough for my knickers to fall down in the queue and Tesco and not to be embarrassed. These are smaller goals in the grand scheme of things but they are no less the important, in fact they are probably more important, all achievable with some forward planning, taking it steady and looking after myself.

I know my limits (mostly), I may be bad at admitting them to others and I need to learn ask for help more and when things are too much I need to be better at saying enough. I am learning that and you need to be patient with me whilst I learn and re-learn my limits.

And whilst I learn there will be mainly good and happy times there will be odd sad time, the odd time I will mourn for the life I had that is natural you can't take so much without there being the odd time when I miss my old life. But I promise that there will be no regrets and no bitterness it simply is not in me and anyway if I do that if I hide from the world, stop reaching for my goals, stop trying then I will have let this beat me. I was not beaten by my 1st red ski run, I was not beaten by faulty regulator when SCUBA diving and no Tor on Dartmoor has beaten me so I am damned if asthma will.


Personally I find it quite unhelpful (and really annoying to boot!) when someone says somewhere is ""not very"" smoky! Some nitwits really do not understand how smoke-sensitive some ppl are, asthma attacks brought on by passive smoke kills a lot more ppl than peanut allergy for instance and should be taken just as seriously I believe!

I just can't and won't go unless a place is smoke-free or at least has very well-segregated no smoking areas I can stick to (even then it can be a problem with it drifting so I am firmer than I used to be about this).

After being forced to live in passive smoke as a child, and always being very sick because of it, I avoid it altogether as it always makes me very ill (headache as well as terrible cough and respiratory problems, although not diagnosed as asthma, so it might be chemical sensitivity).

You are NOT being miserable or paranoid, just protecting your health because cigarette smoke is deadly poison to all of us anyway, whether we are especially smoke-sensitive or not, even smokers cannot deny this, and you should not feel bad or ever apologise for choosing to avoid it!! You are right it is not worth going somewhere when you know you will suffer badly for it later. It does not matter what your husband or anyone else thinks if you say no you will not go to a place allowing smoking, it's your body, your health and your choice to protect yourself even if they will not protect you! Ppl need to respect that!

Why not just have friends round to visit and find one of the Wetherspoons smoke-free pubs (there are a few of them all over the UK, all on the Wetherspoons site)?

I know it seems unfair that you got like this right after quitting smoking. You deserve a reward and better health for kicking nasty nic out of your life, and in the long term I am sure you will get better health for quitting! I never smoked and was always very allergic to it, and you did the right thing quitting cos now you are not blowing smoke about and making other smoke-sensitive ppl ill! The longer you are quit though, your lungs should hopefully heal a bit more and this sensitivity might get a bit less, it can take a few years to heal the lungs completely from smoking. It would depend how heavily you smoked and for how long as well as your individual genes.

I think the main reason my condition has not got any better is because I was so badly damaged in childhood by passive smoke and that is much harder to heal from because my lungs were still growing (my mum probably did not know her smoke would harm me this badly). The likelyhood is still that things will improve for you.

Roll on the ban, not long now I keep telling myself, and good luck!

I think you might also be able to get some more help finding smoke-free places from ASH.

As for alcohol, well if you were always naturally a sociable happy go lucky person you can be that way without alcohol, you don't need to drink to have a good time in my opinion!!



I agree, Lesley, people just don't understand how damaging passive smoke exposure can be. I too was heavily exposed to cigarette smoke as a child and teenager (there are photos of my dad leaning over my cot with a cigarette in his hand!) and now cannot stand even the smallest amount. I too can only go to a very select group of oubs/bars, and I'm really looking forward to the ban kicking in!

You don't say, though, Poppy, what treatment you are on for your asthma, but it's worth saying that whilst many (most?) asthmatics react to some extent to cold air, smoke etc, if you are reacting to the degree that you have to go to A&E and have nebs, your asthma is probably not as well controlled as it could/should be. If you are not already on maximum therapy/under a chest cons, it's probably worth talking to your GP to see if you need your medication increased +/- referral to a chest cons. Trigger avoidance is part of asthma management but you should not have to do this to the point where you are virtually housebound!

Have you chatted to your friends about the problems you are having? It can be difficult I know but I've found mine are very accomodating about having nights 'out' at their houses or coming over to mine for wine/take-away/film once in a while. Of course they still go pubbing and clubbing but they also do things that I can be included in. If you don't tell them about it often they will not work out by themselves the reasons for your sudden 'antisocialness' (after all, we all know asthma is not a serious condition, don't we?! *sigh*) so will perhaps just assume you don't want to go out.

A scarf over the mouth on going outside can be helpful with the cold air issue, although it looks a bit wierd at this time of year! Using the old Ventolin before the exposure rather than after can help too. I've also found that non-smoking venues often have a little crowd of smokers around the front door, and if you explain the situation staff are often happy to let you leave by the staff exit or fire exit to avoid this.

Poppy, well done for giving up smoking, you have done the right thing for your lung health even if it doesn't seem like it now! Hang in there and I really hope things improve for you soon.

Take care all

Em H


you could always move to Scotland - the smoke ban in pubs and restaurants is so nice!


Thanks everyone for your replies.

I am on medications, combivent, pulmicort and singulair. I am going back to the GP though because it's definitely not under control!

I'll let you all know how I get on, I may be in with a dvd as suggested!

Thanks again.


You may also like...