Many people diagnosed with asthma may worry about it affecting their future children. Michelle Rivas shares how she handles the "what-ifs" of asthma when planning for a family.
As an adult with asthma, I have this inner dialogue related to my health that runs in an anxious stream of consciousness. As I prepare for my upcoming wedding and have conversations with my future spouse about what the future will entail, I find myself with more questions than ever before.
I wonder what type of parents we’ll be. What age should a child be before they could reasonably own a cell phone? Will free-range parenting be for us?
But for me, the most terrifying question of all is whether or not my child will have asthma too. Will they be limited in the physical activities they can pursue? Will we find ourselves in and out of emergency rooms? Will our schedules be determined by nebulizer treatments and air quality levels?
Becoming a parent involves taking a risk and diving into the unknown. I’d love for my future children to have my hair and my partner’s eyes, a love of reading and my partner’s wit.
As with every potential parent, I want my future children to be perfectly healthy. Unfortunately for me, asthma runs in families and children of asthmatic parents are at increased risk of asthma. That said, asthma is typically expressed non-linearly and is highly variable, meaning I likely have no way of predicting the impact of my asthma on my future children.
One analysis of several studies also found that the likelihood of passing asthma onto your kids is greater if you’re female than if you’re male, which isn’t helping to ease my concern.
From anxiety to action
After worrying about this for significantly longer and more frequently than someone reasonably should, I’ve refocused my energy and attention to the ways I can control the potential impact asthma will have on my children.
While I continue to prepare for post-wedding milestones like buying a home with my partner, I’m strongly taking into consideration the impact a location and environment can have on my children.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has even put together a list of the worst places to live for people with asthma. Terrifyingly, Chicago, my current home, is on the list as one of the top cities with the most asthma-related deaths. We may not be here for as long as we thought we would.
To manage any disease, you need to have access to the tools, resources, and clinicians to help you maintain your health. I continue to build my asthma dream team of clinicians, and make sure that no matter where we end up, having access to these resources is a top priority.
My level of asthma-related knowledge continues to grow with each year following my diagnosis. As an adult with asthma, the learning curve was a bit steep.
I’ve learned — through my team of asthma specialists and doctors — the ins and outs of managing this disease, and am still expanding my knowledge. As a future healthcare decision maker in the family, this gives me more confidence to navigate a potential diagnosis, at any age.
Connecting with others who have asthma has been hugely beneficial for me — everyone needs someone to talk to who understands their struggles. Whether it’s venting about disease management or brainstorming new ideas for taking better care of yourself and your family, it’s important to have a network.
Having the proper asthma management tools is one thing, but having educational resources and staying up to date with research is huge. As someone who genuinely loves reading and writing about health, I read as much about asthma as possible and I’ve learned so much! Research advances every day, and my goal is to stay well informed, well into the years to come.
The information presented is solely for educational purposes, not as specific advice for managing physical or mental disabilities. Please consult a professional who can apply best practices and appropriate resources to your situation.
NPS-ALL-NP-00835 FEB 2023