Coping With a Chronic Asthma Condition

Coping with asthma, which is a chronic illness, can be difficult. Asthma can cause pain, fatigue, stress, and disruptions in daily life.

A teenage girl using her asthma inhaler

Lea Paterson / Science Photo Library / Getty Images

In extreme cases, physical limitations—such as the shortness of breath that frequently accompanies asthma—may make it necessary to change work, school, or recreational activities. A change in working conditions, as well as the expenses of this illness, may lead to financial difficulties.

Despite the challenges of coping with chronic asthma, there are effective ways to manage your asthma symptoms, prevent complications, and enjoy your everyday routines and activities.

Managing Your Chronic Asthma Condition

Consistent treatment can help you avoid uncontrolled symptoms and reduce your asthma attacks and complications. Controlling asthma may also reduce your need for certain asthma medications.

The following steps can help you manage your asthma:

  1. Work with a medical professional: From medications to lifestyle and environmental changes, your healthcare provider will work with you to monitor and treat your condition.
  2. Use asthma medications correctly: This includes taking your medication on schedule and using inhalers correctly. Ask for instructions, a demonstration, and feedback on your technique before taking your inhaler home. In a 2014 study published by Nature Partner Journal of Primary Care Respiratory Medicine, researchers found that more than 80% of adults demonstrated poor technique when using an inhaler.
  3. Be aware of the symptoms of an asthma attack: Symptoms may include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing. Know when to reach for that quick-relief medicine prescribed by your healthcare provider.
  4. Use a peak flow meter to monitor your asthma:  A peak flow meter lets you measure how quickly you can exhale a blast of air out of your lungs, which is a sign of how well your asthma is controlled.
  5. Control allergens at home: Certain environmental triggers—such as tobacco smoke and furry pets—can aggravate asthma. Follow your healthcare provider's advice to create an asthma-friendly home.
  6. Get regular exercise: If asthma attacks are limiting your physical activity, ask a medical professional for suggestions about appropriate exercises for you. Research has shown that people with lung diseases benefit physically and emotionally from physical activity. In most patients with well-controlled asthma, physical activity is not restricted by an asthma diagnosis

Other Strategies

Living with a chronic illness doesn't mean that hopes and dreams have to change, but the way they are achieved might be different. Put your creative energies into finding a way to reach your goals.

Here are some more asthma coping tips:

  • Learn to cope with the stress of having a chronic illness: Living with chronic asthma may lead to feelings of uncertainty, frustration, anger, and depression. Seek help by joining a support group to share experiences with others who also are living with this chronic illness. Individual counseling may also help.
  • Adopt a problem-solving attitude and control negative thoughts: See the condition as a challenge to be met, not as a problem that can't be solved.
  • Become an expert on the illness: The more you and your loved ones know about asthma, the easier it is to manage. Ask a medical professional to provide as much information as they can, including trusted sources on the Internet. Take time to explore this site too, including the section for people who are newly diagnosed with asthma.
  • Educate family members and friends: Your loved ones can provide you with emotional support and should also be alert to the warning signals of an asthma attack. Offer books or pamphlets for your loved ones to read, or ask them to come to your visits to the healthcare provider with you so that they can ask their own questions.
  • Learn to manage daily activities: Meeting the challenges of a chronic illness can be tiring. Avoid doing too much or too little.
  • Slow down: Use relaxation and meditation to fully focus on being in the present, because stress and anxiety are among the triggers that can cause an asthma attack. Relaxation techniques may also help prevent asthma attacks.

Finally, don't ignore all the help that is available, whether from healthcare providers, family, and friends, community resources, or support groups. Research has shown that people living with a chronic illness who have an extended network of support fare better than those who withdraw and become isolated.

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Crane MA, Jenkins CR, Goeman DP, et al. Inhaler device technique can be improved in older adults through tailored education: findings from a randomised controlled trialNPJ Prim Care Respir Med. Sep 4 2014;24:14034. doi:10.1038/npjpcrm.2014.34

  2. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. What Are the Symptoms of Asthma? Sept 2015.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Common Asthma Triggers. Aug 21, 2020.

  4. Spruit MA, Burtin C, De Boever P, et al. COPD and exercise: does it make a difference?. Breathe (Sheff). 2016;12(2):e38-e49. doi:10.1183/20734735.003916

  5. Stoodley I, Williams L, Thompson C, et al. Evidence for lifestyle interventions in asthmaBreathe (Sheff). 2019;15(2):e50-e61. doi:10.1183/20734735.0019-2019

  6. Fernández-Peña R, Molina JL, Valero O. Personal network analysis in the study of social support: the case of chronic painInt J Environ Res Public Health. 2018;15(12):2695. doi:10.3390/ijerph15122695