Relationships and asking for the help you need

7) Work mates

Group of female work colleagues chatting

© Crown Copyright 2009

If you are still working your work mates are another possible source of help. Some may have similar experience of a long term condition but others may not understand what it is like for you when you are unwell.

If you have asthma make sure you tell someone at work what to do if you have an attack and can’t communicate because of breathlessness. Keep your inhalers with you. Keep at copy of your asthma action plan at work. (For more information please see the section on Asthma action plan.) It may be useful if you have a medical alert bracelet such as medic alert. This gives basic information about you which can be used to tell a paramedic about your asthma if you are too breathless to speak. If you are not allowed to wear jewellery at work you could carry an asthma alert card in your wallet or bag.

You may have experienced resentment from work colleagues if you have had time off due to your asthma, especially if they have been covering your work as well as their own. This is not your fault.

If your asthma is having an impact on your work, discuss ways to make your working day easier to cope with. For example is your working environment adding to your problems by being too hot/ too cold/too stuffy? Should you be using protective clothing?

Consider your work mates sensitivity. Some colleagues may find it off putting when you have a productive cough. Try to go to a place away from others where you can clear your chest and throat. Always wash your hands after coughing up sputum and use disposable tissues.

If you think you are being harassed or unfairly treated at work because of your asthma get advice from your human resources, occupational health or union representative if you have one. Report to your manager and discuss options. See – Workplace bullying and harassment for more information.