David Beckham didn’t let asthma hold him back, why should you?

By Regular Daddy (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

We are now in the 21st century and we as humans have particularly made drastic forward strides over the previous 100 years in regards to social and technological development. For instance, our ever-increasing knowledge and understanding about ‘embarrassing’, yet genuine medical conditions such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and sexually transmitted infections, has enabled better advice and treatment to be available for patients with these problems.

One health problem that you could be forgiven for assuming is not too ‘embarrassing’ is the lung condition asthma. Affecting an incredible 5.4 million people in the UK alone, it is more prevalent than you may first realise and worryingly it can strike anybody, at any age. Despite the fact that 1 in 12 adults and 1 in 11 children are suffering from asthma, to this day there is still a stigma and feeling of shame/embarrassment that is closely linked to the airway-constricting lung condition.

Why is this? One possible reason could be the strong desire to fit in with family members and friends. However this can lead to a lax attitude from sufferers who then do not properly manage their asthma and ignore symptoms of an imminent attack. There could also be the feeling of embarrassment of using their preventer or reliever inhaler in a public arena, after all nobody wants to draw attention to themselves do they? However, consider this – what is more important, one 5 second moment of ‘embarrassment’, or your health and being able to properly breathe? Surely a member of the public being forced to call an ambulance for you would heap a whole lot more attention on you than simply using that important asthma inhaler. Not only this, the chances are that nobody will be even paying attention to you! We live in an age whereby most adults are occupied with the social media and music facilities on their smartphones, and are too busy to pay attention to much else around them.

Alternatively, perhaps the embarrassment factor of asthma can be attributed to a lack of understanding of the problem from those who do not actually have asthma themselves. Medical Specialists advise sufferers to take control of their asthma today. Educate those around you about what it is like to live with the lung condition, share your experiences and how it impacts your life. Bestowing this knowledge onto family, friends and co-workers will benefit both you and them. They will have more empathy and will be able to even help you in the event of a serious asthma attack. Showing people that you are not ashamed of having asthma and are fully in control of it means you do not need to feel self-conscious about having asthma or needing to use an inhaler in public.

After all, there are an increasing number of celebrities who are speaking out about their experiences with asthma.  More and more celebs are using their position of being a powerful role model to hammer home the clear message that asthma is absolutely nothing to feel humiliated about and that you should definitely not let it stop you enjoying your life. Why should you hide away at home and be miserable when some of your favourite heroes are still doing what they are passionate about and are not letting it hold them back. Here we look at some of the most famous asthma sufferers from the world of entertainment:

  • David Beckham

Somewhat surprisingly given his high-profile image, football superstar David Beckham’s asthma was only first revealed to the public during half-time of a LA Galaxy match in November 2009. Beckham was snapped puffing on his preventative inhaler for the first time ever since he burst into Manchester United’s first team in the 1990s. It was later revealed he has suffered from asthma since childhood but never felt the need to publicly speak about it. His agent Simon Oliveira said at the time, “David has suffered with this since he was a young boy. He has never sought to make it public, but if it does inspire any sufferer to think they can achieve great things like many other sportsmen have done then so much the better.”

  • Martin Scorsese

Oscar winning veteran film director Martin Scorsese has enjoyed a widely acclaimed career, spanning several decades. He is responsible for many films that are constantly being voted as some of the greatest films of all time including Raging Bull, Goodfellas and The Departed. However, his glittering directorial career may not have come to fruition without asthma. Scorsese suffered from severe asthma whilst a young boy growing up in Queens, New York. The young Scorsese was therefore encouraged by his parents to spend more time in movie theatres instead of the sports field. It was here he developed his fierce passion for film-making, and the rest is history as they say!

  • Alice Cooper

Known as ‘Vincent Damon Furnier’ when he is not on stage screaming down his microphone, 64-year-old US heavy metal singer Alice Cooper has never let his asthma hold him back from becoming one of the most idolised rock gods in the world, in a career that has lasted for over four decades and counting.  Cooper first suffered from asthma as a young child when growing up in Detroit, Michigan. To try and help his condition, Alice’s family made the decision to relocate to Phoenix, Arizona. These days, the rocker has his asthma firmly under control and has certainly not allowed the condition to prevent him from ‘rocking out!’

There are many more famous asthmatics than the three mentioned though, and many whom you are probably not aware even have the lung condition. Here are just a few more examples:

. Paul Scholes (Manchester United footballer)

. Frank Lampard (Chelsea FC & England footballer)

. Paula Radcliffe (English long distance runner)

. Rebecca Adlington (Team GB Olympic swimmer)

. Darren Gough (Former England cricketer)

. Charles Dickens (English writer during the Victorian period)

. John F. Kennedy (35th President of the United States)

. Bill Clinton (42nd President of the United States)

. Ricki Lake (American chat show host)

. Billy Joel (Singer)

As you can see, there have been many successful athletes, film directors, presidents and novelists who have all followed their heart and fulfilled their dreams. Do not let your asthma force you into living a reclusive day to day life. In fact, previous research has found that people living with a chronic illness such as asthma that have formed an extended social network, tend to be happier and successful in comparison to those who decide to retreat from social events. Reach out to others, do not be embarrassed to use that potentially life-saving inhaler, and most importantly – relax and enjoy life!

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