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Things not to say to asthmatics

Following on from the Asthma Myths post, another good pair of posts from this site. Think it's American but these are fairly universal (though personally I don't do the throat clearing thing).

asthma.net/living/10-things...

asthma.net/living/ten-more-...

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Heard a few of those , I have just learned to smile with gritted teeth :

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Ugh yes. More of a problem when people won't take triggers seriously, but I admit it really puts my back up when people tell me I'll be fine. I suppose they think it's reassuring but it generally comes across as dismissive and annoying, including when drs etc do it.

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What do you mean the throat clearing thing....

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First one in the More things not to say (second link) talks about throat-clearing a lot - not something I do but others may.

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Just after I clicked send to send you noticed the links...lol not enough coffee yet

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I do the throat clearing. It tends to come in episodes. I can go months without needing to do so and then go through a week or so of needing to do it quite a lot - including recently. In my case I suspect it’s mucus from my nasal passages that has slipped down into my lungs and been coughed back up but has got lodged in my throat (hence throat clearing) or has just got got lodged in my throat with the same result.

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This is the firs time I've read about "the throat clearing thing." I was diagnosed two years ago with emphysema and "a touch" of asthma, according to my lung doc. On next visit she said maybe more asthma than she first thought. For the last few weeks I've really gone down hill, pretty much breathless all the time. But also, for the first time a couple of months ago I started the throat clearing. Always at night in bed trying to sleep. Now I'm wondering if I'm being bothered more by asthma than by emphysema? Luckily, I see lung doc this Monday. Maybe she can get me sorted out, because I have been feeling really bad.

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I'm ALWAYS clearing my throat. It even annoys me!!

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They've missed my number 1 'blow a gasket' comment: "you should probably see a doctor about that cough."

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I always get 'would you like a glass of water?' I realise this is meant to be helpful and will tolerate one offer as nicely meant but it drives me nuts if they keep offering when I say no thanks! Hard for me to speak usually so hard to explain why. I've taken to waving my inhaler now.

Got this in A and E once from triage nurse but managed to gasp out that it was asthma and she got it. On another occasion people near me moved away from the noises - assume they thought I was infectious...

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I also have Bronchiectasis as well as Asthma, and this happens to me a lot when having a coughing fit. GRRR!

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The one that always infuriates me is “...but that’s only asthma” as though it was nothing worse than a common cold. My usual response goes along the lines of “Yes, the condition that kills three people every day in the U.K. alone.”

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I may steal that response!

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Be my guest:-).

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“It’s okay if I smoke in front of you, so long as the window is open.”

I had a piano teacher years ago who used to smoke during lessons! :-o (looking back I know it was highly unprofessional and maybe I shouldn't have stayed with him as long as I did)

Pre-smoking-ban I'd been to a party the night before and a few hours of dancing in the smokey atmosphere meant I really wasn't very well at all. I politely asked him if he would mind not smoking today and his reply was "the ventilation's on you'll be ok"!!! I'd surprised myself with my confidence to actually ask him, I wasn't confident enough to push the matter.

I was even less well when I left my lesson than I had been when I arrived :'-(

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Wow! I used to have a teacher who chain smoked in his classroom (very much not allowed) and opened the windows I think imagining it would get rid. No idea how he got away with it as you could smell it everywhere. Luckily my asthma was in hiding then - if it were now I think I'd have been carted off in an ambulance and had to change tutor group! I heard he quit which amazed me as thought he must be made of nicotine.

A naughty part of me is tempted to say at least you weren't learning a wind instrument from your teacher! I'd have demanded a refund then...actually feel like it would have been justified anyway, given I found the piano hard enough without struggling to breathe :( I do get annoyed by inconsiderate smokers who don't realise they're forcing others to smoke too.

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I love these! I’m sick of hearing, ‘but your SATS are 100%’ yes they might be but I can’t breathe! That and the, ‘I know it’s easy for me to say, but if you just try and slow your breathing down and stop making that noise’ I could quite happily hit people who say that to me!

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Ugh yes! And 'nebs will only help if you have a wheeze/low sats.' Please don't spout factually incorrect statements as well as ignoring guidelines. Bronchospasm, wheeze and hypoxia are not interchangeable!

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‘I can imagine how you must be feeling, when I get a bad cold/hay fever.....’ mate, you’ve literally got no idea, it feels like an elephant is sitting on my chest!

‘You’ve got to try and stay calm’ that’s a classic, I always try and stay calm but at the end of the day, I can’t breathe!

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Oh I was going to say the 'stay calm one. Yes, anxiety can make you short of breath too but not everyone who is short of breath is anxious! Got asked if I was anxious once by a paramedic due to shaky hands. He had just given me 2 nebs back to back...err that may explain shaky hands?! It annoys me when people can't grasp that having symptoms or side effects that may overlap with anxiety does not mean you are anxious. It's like saying to.someone with a cold they must have hayfever because that makes your nose run too!

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Exactly! Plus find me someone who isn’t a little bit anxious when they can’t breathe! I’m pretty sure it’s a natural reaction, I get scared sometimes but who wouldn’t?!

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I get anxious over how they're going to handle me rather than the breathing itself- so if they're being awful it becomes a horrible circle because I get frustrated and they see that as 'evidence' that they were right and it's just emotions/anxiety!

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Yes! That’s exactly what happened to me on Wednesday and I have to say I’ve complained. The paramedic threw my laminated sheet on the sofa because my dad, bless him, didn’t know that it is what the specialist has told me. He said my SATS were 100% so there was no blockage or I wouldn’t be getting oxygen in. He never made eye contact with me, hummed all the time, didn’t help me up off the chair and into the one to put me in the ambulance and my mum had to ask him to give me hydrocortisone! His whole attitude made me upset and totally made my breathing worse.

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:( ugh glad you complained, sounds horrible. I once had one I had to persuade to do anything- very hard as I was finding it hard to breathe but was proud of myself for insisting he should take me in as he was trying the whole no wheeze sats fine thing. He did agree to get another crew and take me in but then sat on my bed for half an hour and played with his phone while ignoring me!I get that conversation was hard and he didn't consider I was bad but even so - strong vibes of 'I cba with this' coming from him which wasn't encouraging.

Luckily the crew who came were a lot better. Turned out to be a fairly nasty attack in the end with some interesting ABGs!

I will add that another thing not to say to asthmatics is 'don't tell us we don't meet the very rigid and not necessarily correct way you hve interpreted guidelines'. The crew who came were lovely and prepared to listen but still insisted on saying.I was speaking in full sentences ans not leaning forwards. Neither of those was true - the sentences thing is actually about how much you can get through in one breath and it was hugely hard to talk, and I was leaning just not the way they expected. It was frustrating and I was concerned they would hand over that I was talking fine when I wasn't. It seems unless you give one word answers they often write you down as talking ok and then see it as not that bad.

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I don’t like to complain but his whole attitude was totally off and I just thought, ‘that’s my breathing, my life, you’re taking a chance with’ I think some paramedics just treat the numbers rather than the patient. One I had earlier in the week said, ‘well your numbers are fine, but clearly looking at you, you’re not’ I do think common sense should prevail and I find it worrying that so many of us experience cases where it just doesn’t!

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