Asthma UK community forum

Problems at work

I have severe, difficult, unstable asthma and have both a ventolin inhaler and nebs as I can go off pretty quick and my asthma tends to be variable throughout the day.

This year I have been hospitalised twice and so far needed 6 course of pred, I am under a specialist at my local hospital who is excellent. Work on the whole is fine except for one of my colleagues who has got it into her head that the problem with my asthma is simply that I use I too much ventolin. I feel like I have to defend myself and I feel like I am being blamed for my asthma and I am getting so frustated.

The other day I went into work and was pretty chesty so I used my inhaler just 2 puffs and her response was ""put that away, you don't need it, if I see you using it again I'll slap your wrists"" then moving quickly on to say ""I hope your not going to be using that all day"" I tried to explain that my my pf was less that 80% and her friend launched into a lecture of how I shouldn't be checking my pfs daily and that I shouldn't go on pf alone I explained that I am checking it regularly as instructed by my consultant and I keep my pf monitor on me because of how quick I can drop he then launched into another lecture about how I shouldn't go on PF alone I explained I don't, this is another thing that my consultant has stressed to me.

Just so fed up and frustrated....

10 Replies

Hi Wanda,

This looks to me like workplace bullying! These people have no right to comment on how you manage your asthma. Do you have supervisions/one:one meetings with your line manager regularly? Can you bring it up formally in there? Or by another route?



I do sympathise, awful to have that hassle on top of your asthma. I can only take so much irritation before I snap and I think I would snap in your situation. My retort would probably be along the lines of 'I know what I'm doing, so mind your own business'.

I absolutely hate confrontation but have found over the years that sometimes attack is the best form of defence! Alternatively, the more civilised line of action suggested by JF!


Hi. I get that too. I try to hide my blue inhaler in my hand and head off for the loo to take it in private. But there's always one goes ""Hmm, you're not still needing that?"" in much the same tone of voice as folk use to kids who are still using their dummy.

You need it, your con knows you need it. Go see HR and get this sorted out.

Despite what Joe Public thinks, blue inhalers are not handed out willy-nilly.

Edit: Sorry for banging the drum there a bit.


It does seem rather like bullying as stated before, make a note of exactly what is said to you, when and by whom as you will need to be able to give specific examples if you have to talk to your supervisor or seek disiplinary action.

I think if it was me I'd try to sort it myself befor taking any formal action. I think in the first instance I would try saying something along the lines of ""My health problems and how they are treated are private, and not up for discussion. My consultant and I know what we are doing, so please don't bring the matter up again."" I can be a bit short-fused so if they continued I'd be likely to reply curtly with something like ""If it's all the same with you I'll be following the advice of my consultant, who has considerably more training, knowledge and experience on the subject than you!"" It is rather confrontational, but asking them to stop (and I'm sure you'll have a better idea of how to put it than me) will propably help your case if you need to tackle the problem through more formal channels, as it proves that they intend to make you feel uncomfortable rather than it being some kind of misguided attempt to help.


Read your post and was horrified! In the first instance I would tell your colleague to mind her own business as your health matters are not of her/his concern. I would also keep a diary of all these incidents, so that should the bullying (and it is bullying) continue, you have a written record. I would also be inclined to have an informal chat with your superior to make sure that they are aware of the situation. Any good employer would be horrified to hear this is happening in the workplace. Hope you are able to sort things, below is a good government website!

Cheers Katina


I'd try & sort this yourself cause if you can it would give you confidence and teach your colleagues to mind their own business. You shouldn't feel you have to explain yourself to anyone, so don't engage in conversation with them about your health. If you do it'll only encourage these ignorant people. I once had a snide colleague like this. I just said ""out of interest, where did you get your medical degree?"" That shut her up quite effectively.


sorry to hear of your problems at work :(

it is bullying and stress won`t help your asthma

as Polly says ""I just said ""out of interest, where did you get your medical degree?"" That shut her up quite effectively."" that is worth a try - I too would NOT get into a discussion with them, it is none of their business.

and here here Nimueh


Not very good friends if u ask me. I agree with the others u should document the incidents but also try and deal withit yourself. That way if u gotta take it further you will have a stronger case against them. Im the opposite my workmates where so supportive and when I took my nebs someone usually joined me for a wee break. Unfortunately management moved my job and no longer have the support I once had ..,


just curious about this- do they have asthma themselves? i bet if they do its very mild. i dont know anyone who would use the inhalers if they didnt need to as they can make you really shakey. as for the peak flow thing-surely its better to know what it is on a day to day basis as then you will know when to start upping your meds etc. just tell them that if they were in your shoes for a day then they wold be the same (either that or you could just tell them to sod off and mind their own business lol)


Thank to all those that took the time to reply, your replies were really useful. I have changed shift patterns for a while to get away from her as much as possible. I have also decided that the time has come to start looking for another job. There is little point in going to my manager as management is pretty un-supportive (she actually said what she said in front of my team leader) however I will speak to my union if it gets too tough again. But a change in job is definitely on the cards just I am not sure what employer is going to be willing to take on a potential employee with the health issues that I present with.


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