Asthma UK community forum

Work Advice

Hello everyone I'm new here😁 I decided to ask for advice because I feel I was treated poorly at work today and I can't stop thinking about it. Just a little insight, I work at McDonalds part time to help my husband out financially and it is only my 3rd week of work...I have had asthma all my life and it is very bad which my manager knows, and today around 10:30am started to have an asthma attack ....Fast food is very fast pace and it his been hard to keep my asthma under control plus my inhaler was empty which I told her. So I walked up to my manager and told her I couldn't breath and at that pant I was having a very hard time even talking and she said " oh just go drink some black coffee it will open up your lungs" (btw it does nothing to help only medication will help) so I kept working and was taking orders while trying my hardest just to talk to customers and when 1:00pm came I was off....I went straight to the ER by time I got there I was crying because I felt like my breathing was going to stop completely and they get me back and took care of me thank God😁 my question is what should I do about my job? The way they had me work I'm the condition I was in makes me sick! I thought about walking out but was nervous, I have really bad anxiety so I didn't but should I go back to work? I never want to be in that situation again because I was scared out of mind and she did not care as long as I was working..(sorry for the long post lol) anyways let me know what you think thank you😁

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If your asthma is bad I'm surprised your inhaler was empty? I suppose the question is would you have been fine if you could have taken your inhaler. If so then I'd return with your inhaler and try again.

Maybe share your asthma plan with your manager so they know how to help but at the end of the day I'd suggest having medication to help is your job not hers. Whilst she could have been more sympathetic I do know in some work places bosses expect you to say when you need to leave and they won't make that decision for you but expect you to say 'right I can't carry on I need to go to hospital/home'. Having a plan so it doesn't happen again should help - not having an empty inhaler with you and being pro active in saying I need to leave now. I'd think it's worth another go with those things in mind?


Yeah my inhaler had literally just ran out otherwise I would have had one


Hi, I agree with Arianasarah866, if your asthma is that bad you have to always carry a inhaler with you that has plenty of doses left, you never know how or when your asthma will get worse, saying that, I had a kinda similar situation couple months ago when I started a new job, my supervisor never reilised how dangerous asthma still is, and he put me to work in freezer and chilled areas, I ended up having an attack, the next day (my day off) I asked to speak to my supervisor, explained that asthma still kills, showed him my asthma plan, explained the amounts of medication I have to take (didn't show him), he was shocked! Straight away I was put to a different part of the shop where there's no cold air or draft.

Maybe if you could sit down with your manager and calmly explain how scared you were and also how dangerous asthma is, probably have a "work" asthma plan set up, she probably hasn't a clue about asthma either.

Also your health comes first, no job is worth your life, if you ever get to the point that you feel that you need to rip chest open to get air into your lungs then you have to go straight to hospital no questions asked, and have a FULL INHALER WITH YOU, take care of yourself.


I generally find that unless you explain exactly what might happen and what you (or they) need to do, they don't know and if they have never encountered an asthma attack before, why would they?

Firstly show them a written asthma plan and go through it with them.

Secondly always have at least one working inhaler with you.I have ones in different places at home and always have at least one with me when I am out. If it feels like it is getting empty I add a new one so I am certain I have enough.

Thirdly, actually what they said about coffee is true - if you don't have an inhaler, coffee will open the airways temporarily.

Finally, once you have done the above, give your boss another chance.

Take responsibility for your own health and help others to help you when you need it. That's how I think of it and generally it works.

Take care.


Hi kaylah,

I think that you have been given really good advice, it's up to you to explain to your employer as they can only help you if they understand how your asthma effects you and any triggers that you are aware of.

Slap on your wrist for going out with an empty inhaler you should know better.

Lecture over, I explained to my employer and my line manager kept a inhaler and prednisolone in her office which I gave her for emergency or incase I forgot my inhaler as we all make mistakes by changing handbags and not putting a inhaler in your bag starting a new job being new I guess you are still getting used to being organised with taking your medication with you .

Don't give up, you made a mistake take the advice the others have give and you will be okay.

Take care

Loraine x


Hi, Kaylah, I think the workplace can be very demoralising, especially when the bottom-line obsession is akin to intensive farming.

It is clear that your manager was lacking in experience and appropriate empathy. You did say in your post that the manager was aware of your asthma, something perhaps not picked up on by our other respondents.

I think the advice to 'have a coffee' is stupid. It's true that it helps the airways but in such circumstances it's far from appropriate: it's like pantomiming the analogue 'quick, doctor, give her a shot of adrenaline'! Plus, unless you're a regular coffee drinker, the side effect of palpitations and increased anxiety from a decent amount of coffee may well worsen things.

I worked in a factory years ago, I was a couple of weeks in when they assigned me to a printing area where errors had to be cleaned off using industrial thinners, within an hour I was suffering as though drunk. I reported how I felt and that I had asthma and the supervisor immediately took me off that section and allowed me time to recover.

I don't know what obligations under law a company has, but in your situation it is blindingly obvious that you should have been taken more seriously, especially as you told them your inhaler had run out.

It may be your responsibility to look after yourself but it's their responsibility to ensure your safety. Anyone who says different was probably waiting in line for a cheap burger.

cheers, Ollie.

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Thank you! I completely agree


Thank you everyone and I understand my inhaler was empty and that's my fault I should have had it refilled sooner...My whole issue was that I had told her before how bad my asthma gets and she was just so insensitive to the situation...I walked up to her and said "idk what to do I can't breath". She had my sit down for 20 min and then get on counter and take orders... Everyone knows when you can't breath how hard it is to talk and also sitting for however long does not help anything. Also I need to see a specialist because sometimes my inhaler only helps for a good 30 min and I start having trouble again so even if I had it I'm not sure if I would of been good for the day I think the Prednisone is what helped me get through the day.

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