Compared to mild or moderate asthma, the symptoms of severe asthma are worse and ongoing. People with severe asthma may also be at an increased risk of asthma attacks.

As a friend or loved one of someone with severe asthma, you can offer continued support. At the same time, it’s important to know what not to say to someone with severe asthma.

Here are four things never to say to someone living with severe asthma.

Can’t you just take your inhaler?

Yes, a rescue inhaler can help if sudden symptoms of severe asthma arise. If a friend tells you they can’t be around your dog or that they may not be able to go out during days when the pollen count is high, take them at their word.

One of the best ways to control severe asthma is to avoid triggers. Be understanding of things your loved one needs to avoid. An inhaler is meant for emergencies only.

Are you sure you don’t just have a cold?

Some of the symptoms of asthma might be similar to the common cold, such as coughing and wheezing. If your loved one has allergic asthma, then they might experience sneezing and congestion too.

Unlike cold symptoms though, asthma symptoms don’t go away on their own. They also don’t gradually get better on their own, as you experience with a cold.

Suggest that your loved one see their doctor about a treatment plan if their symptoms aren’t improving. It could be they’re experiencing high levels of inflammation and that’s making their symptoms worse.

Do you mind if I smoke?

Smoking is bad for anyone, but it’s especially dangerous for people with asthma. And no, stepping outside or keeping a door open won’t help — your loved one will still be exposed to secondhand or even thirdhand smoke. It’s also still on your clothes when you come back from that cigarette break. Be considerate of your loved one and don’t smoke around them.

I know so-and-so has asthma, and they can exercise. Aren’t you just making excuses?

As there are different types of asthma with varying severities, triggers vary too. Some people may be able to exercise just fine with asthma. Many people with severe asthma can’t exercise. In such cases, using a rescue inhaler beforehand to relax the airways may not be enough.

Your loved one should take walks or do light stretches only if they’re able. Understand that some days are better than others when it comes to exercise capabilities.

People with severe asthma have already discussed exercise with their doctors. This includes knowing their limitations. They may also be going through pulmonary rehabilitation, which helps to increase their ability to exercise in the future.