New relationships are incredible. You’re walking on air. Someone’s interested in every thought in your mind and sees everything you do as beautiful. You’re learning lots of new and exciting things about each other.
As you get to know each other, you might try to keep your asthma secret. Sometimes it’s easier not to disclose your condition in a new relationship. You might even try to avoid certain activities to minimize asthma triggers or hide your inhaler, keeping it out of sight, in a purse or jacket.
Eventually, a relationship gets serious enough that you have to reveal your asthma diagnosis. This can sometimes feel like a major buzzkill. A significant other can then become another caregiver.
The coughing, wheezing, and trigger-preventers of asthma aren’t sexy. Managing these symptoms is a full-time job for any asthma patient.
From my experience of entering a new relationship with asthma, there are ways to ease the transition. Here are a few ways asthma can be a relationship buzzkill and how I’ve coped with each.
New asthma triggers at a travel destination
You likely know what your asthma triggers are at home and how to avoid them. But sometimes careful asthma management goes out the window when you’re traveling.
My last trip to Las Vegas included a visit to a health clinic for a nebulizer treatment when my asthma was triggered by tobacco smoke. Almost all hotels have casinos that still allow smoking indoors.
I now keep a mental note of the locations I know are likely to trigger my asthma. I avoid Las Vegas. My allergist also suggested that Florida was off-limits due to an abundance of allergic trees, ragweed, grass, and mold that trigger my allergy symptoms.
My partner and I also created a list of places we want to visit. We plan ahead together to minimize the impact on my asthma.
Hotels can also be full of asthma triggers, like pillows that harbor dust mites and poorly circulated airflow in rooms with strong odors.
I research allergy-friendly rooms with air purifiers and unscented soaps. I call ahead so the space is prepared before we arrive. I’ve had luck with home rentals too, which can be more customizable than larger hotel chains.
Limitations in the great outdoors
I’ve always dreamed of scuba diving, but I still haven’t done it for fear of having an asthma attack. Hiking, camping with bonfires, and playing sports, all can (and have) triggered my asthma.
That doesn’t mean I avoid all the fun. My partner and I plan ahead before we head outdoors to minimize the risks.
I check the air quality, pollen count, and weather to make sure it’s safe for me to be outside. My partner makes sure my medications are with us at all times. A team mentality is important!
Avoiding food allergies
Eating out is one of the biggest buzzkills in my relationship. I’m a foodie. Adhering to an allergy-friendly diet is so frustrating. Especially when you’re at a Michelin-starred restaurant.
I’m allergic to many foods. Fortunately, there are usually alternatives. I check menus and call ahead to make sure I can find accommodations for my diet.
Most restaurants are nonsmoking. But this can vary depending on your location.
Bottom line: Always, always, always call ahead!
Getting really sick during cold & flu season
My asthma is typically under control when I’m well. All bets are off when I’m sick.
My asthma increases the risk of a simple chest cold swiftly turning into bronchitis. A cold can transform into pneumonia even more quickly if you have asthma.
My partner and I take extra precautions to avoid an escalation.
We both follow our doctor’s recommendations for annual vaccines to help prevent potentially dangerous asthma-linked flu complications. It’s important so I won’t catch the flu and my partner won’t pass it on to me.
When I think I’m coming down with something, we cancel plans. I schedule more doctor appointments. I try to stay indoors.
Keeping an open dialogue about how I’m feeling and what I need helps remove some of the guilt.
Extra intimacy challenges
Using an inhaler during intimate moments is a huge turn-off. I’ve had to run to the other room to grab my inhaler and dig through my purse more times than I can count. (In fact, I wrote a whole other article about it.)
My partner fortunately understands my asthma. We laugh it off. Who said humor and intimacy doesn’t go well together?
Finding the right sleeping arrangements
My sleep hygiene might seem a bit excessive if you don’t know that I have asthma. My asthma causes me to wake up coughing during the night. I can’t have the windows open due to pollen and allergens, and I sleep with an air purifier almost year-round.
When the question is “your place or mine,” it always needed to be mine.
Things changed later in our relationship. My partner made sure I had accommodations at their place. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is!
Agreeing on a pet policy
It’s either the cat or me. I could never be in a relationship with someone who has cats. They trigger my asthma.
My partner previously lived with roommates who had cats. It was a challenge early on in our relationship. Every visit had to be strategically calculated, but relationships are meant to be fun and spontaneous, right?
Being open and honest from the first date was critical. Turns out my partner is more of a dog lover anyway!
Relationships with asthma don’t need to be a buzzkill. It’s worth the wait to find a partner who understands and supports your asthma journey. They might be far more comfortable with your asthma lifestyle than you expect!
For more information on how to manage asthma, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
NPS-US-NP-00616 APRIL 2020