5 ways to fight health stigma

(NC) Whether it’s a seasonal cold, asthma, or a disease like lung cancer or COPD, it is undeniable that being ill can affect our mental well-being. But there is often more to it than meets the eye.

A recent survey commissioned by The Canadian Lung Association showed that stigma, judgment and shame have a negative impact on those with lung disease. While not everyone can be a respirologist who can help the disease itself, everyone does have the opportunity to provide emotional support.

Here are five things you can do to help stamp out stigma:      

1. A surprising number of Canadians with COPD and lung cancer feel social isolation as a result of their diagnosis. If you know someone who has either disease, don’t assume they want to be excluded or alone. Ask them first and try to involve them in social activities. Understand that living with lung disease can be challenging; talk to them and ask how you can offer support.

2. Canadians who have lung cancer often seek a doctor’s help too late because of the shame and self-blame they feel. Whether the lung cancer was caused by smoking or something else doesn’t matter. Instead of asking if they caused the lung disease by smoking, ask how you can be helpful now and going forward.

3. Every lung disease is different. Everyone’s asthma is different. Before you assume someone can’t join an outdoor activity because of asthma, ask what his or her triggers are. People have different severities, types and triggers for asthma. Triggers are things that can cause someone’s asthma to flare up. These can be things like allergies, pollen or exercise. They differ from person to person.

4. Be aware. Those with chronic lung disease often say they feel self-conscious about coughing or using an inhaler in public. Know that this is a part of the disease and not a social faux pas.

5. If you have a friend or a family member with a lung disease, listen to what they need. If given the opportunity, chances are they will tell you how you can best support them.

Find more information at visit lung.ca.


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