This is what it’s like to have asthma at the University of York

Some things I’ve noticed about student life with asthma


Asthma is an extremely common condition that over 5 million people in the UK suffer from.

It’s thankfully very treatable and is nowhere near as demanding as some conditions can be, but here’s a few hurdles I’ve found can be thrown up by coming to uni with it.

Triggers for an asthma attack can involve dust, getting drunk enough, sniffing aerosol deodorant (I mean by accident, not recreationally), and of course hanging about in any club smoking area for long periods of time. Many of these things and more can lead to you coughing like a second-rate Lord of the Sith, so normally most asthma sufferers such as myself will have to resort to…

The Inhaler Flourish

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You’ve all seen someone do this at least once; in my case I have to carry an inhaler around with me in the event of an asthma attack, so if things are getting bad I’ll have to pull out my relief inhaler and take a few huffs.

There’s naturally nothing else that radiates sex appeal quite like producing one of these inhalers mid-conversation at a party, but they’re often the only thing that can alleviate symptoms and prevent things getting worse. Using an inhaler can however also lead to quite a strange effect…

"The caffeine look"

A lot of inhalers contain a type of steroid that increases your heart rate and gives you the feeling of having had about three double-espressos. If I’ve had to take a particularly big dose of it then generally I’ll find myself speaking at an astonishingly fast rate, fidgeting like a tweaker, and sometimes unable to sleep. It’s a frustrating side-effect of my asthma medication and isn't a sensation I'd recommend to anyone, no matter how late you're trying to stay up for deadline…

The Serious Bit

Asthma is an inconvenient condition that roughly 1 in 11 people in England suffer from. If left untreated it can have dire consequences and many of the more awkward aspects of the condition are daily obstacles for both children and adults living with it.

So in future, spare a thought for the athletically challenged kid on sports day, the wheezing student in the seminar room, and of course, the villain from that one Bond film. It’s only through public awareness of asthma can it become less alienating experience for those who live with it.