Coughs/colds as a trigger

Hi all,

im a newby here, and only got diagnosed with asthma in march this year, after a bad chest infection gave me an asthma attack and put me in ITU.

After a great summer where i came off all my inhalers, the change in season/weather and increase in people with coughs/colds etc i've gone from no inhalers to 3 inhalers (beclomethasone, salmeterol, salbutamol) and had two chest infections in one month, both of which i was on antibiotics and steroids for and had to have the little green men with blue flashy lights to help me out.

Its enough to get me down as this time last year i had no asthma and now its constant :o(

I know its not under control (from this websites advice) due to waking at night, and having to use salbutamol every day, and my peak flow isnt as good as it used to be..

I've never met anyone who's asthma is triggered by coughs and colds, and because of this its as if i'm making a fuss over a little sniffle, especially as my symptoms of pending asthma attack are coughing and unable to get any air in/out, rather than the wheezing i've seen with other peoples asthma attacks

Anyone out there who's a newly diagnosed asthmatic, or anyone who's triggers are coughs/colds etc

would love to know im not the only one!!

13 Replies

  • Hi :) Welcome to the board, I'm sure you will find it really reassuring to talk to people who have had similar experiences.

    You sound similar to me in some ways. I had mild asthma as a child but it returned about this time last year and I was put on blue and brown inhalers after an ambulance visit in February which was due to a slight cold.

    I've had two colds that have gone to my chest this autumn as well. Needed pred and antibs last time and probably going to need them again the way things are going today. I do have other triggers as well - weather, tiredness and sometimes things like dust, smoke etc as well as hayfever give me a tight chest and shortness of breath. Colds/infections give me a chesty cough and wheeze.

    Hope you get things under control soon. How supportive is your GP?

  • Hi Laura and welcome! This is a good place.

    I am fairly newly diagnosed, though have actually had symptoms this time round for over 2 years! I'm still getting used to the triggers and medication etc though. My mild childhood asthma came back after swine flu and got worse last year after a cold with a lot of coughing.

    I do wonder who you've been talking to who claims not to be triggered at all by colds... thought colds were a trigger for most asthmatics even if they have others as well! I guess you can get colds sometimes that don't do anything, or some asthmatics can, but I think most people on here would probably agree they tend to be more worried than most people about getting a cold as it can so often set things off and lead to worse ie chest infections.

    Plenty of people on here as well, me included, who also don't wheeze and find this a problem with

    drs etc. Have you been back to the drs or asthma nurse? Sounds like you could do with some help and possible medication change - if they are being unhelpful keep at them, or maybe ring the nurses on here as they are very good and you can go armed with more information.

  • Hi and thank you for your reply :)

    I also, looking retrospectively, probably had mild child-hood asthma symptoms; such as having to do cross country running in the cold icy weather... that was always fun (not)!

    I've yet to find other sort of symptoms that cause me any problems. I've had an allergy test earlier this year that showed me nothing i really didnt already know - hayfever (pollens/grasses/silver birch), cats and dogs. The allergy nurse made a real big thing of hayfever giving me an asthma attack, especially with thunderstorms etc. when in fact summer has seemed to be the better time of the year for me (came off all inhalers)

    I never get to see the same gp each time i go and i've found a lot of inconsistency.. to the point that one gp made me walk to the hospital (couple of streets away round the corner) whilst i was having an asthma attack (the hospital drs figured if i didnt have to do that i probably wouldnt have ended up in ITU... they were understandably annoyed by him!) As for the asthma nurses, they seem pleasant and polite and very wishy-washy, not giving me any more information than i already know, and just spend the time checking my inhaler technique. pah.

    Most recent trip to GP, he says ""hmm two ITU admissions in one year... sounds like your asthma is pretty bad"" didnt do anything more.

    Any way i do apologize for such a negative post, but i've just struggled to speak to anyone who's going through anything similar!

  • How useless of them! I completely understand though luckily I have not had any ITU/hospital admissions. It is very frustrating and you would think they'd pay attention to ITU admissions and do something!

    How many GPs are there? Any better than the rest? It seems to be trial and error sometimes...I have identified one great one, one back-up (she listens and is thorough but also a little negative and too trusting of authority ie useless chest specialists) plus another one I think would be ok. This is not bad going for a surgery of 5, but there are a lot of GPs in my area. I think you could right away cross off the one who made you walk to the hospital (even in an emergency as he is clearly not great with emergencies!) and the one who made the ITU comment...

    I think it is worth ringing the AUK nurses, I have never failed to get at least something helpful from a call to them and some have been especially fantastic and really made me feel like it's not all in my head, there are others out there like me and I do have options.

  • My general asthma symptom is a cough and i know when i get a cold i will cough seemingly a LOT more than my non-asthmatic friends. I'm lucky in that i've never been hospitalised but i was told once in an emergency appt that i could take my blue inhaler up to every 2 hours but if i deteriorated down to needing it every hour then i was to ring an ambulance :-o Even then my PF was almost normal and my oxygen sats were about 97%

  • just wondering, but when you see a different GP each time, do they all have access to the same info on you? i hope so! my only other suggestion would be that after two ITU admissions in a year, maybe you need to be referred to a chest specialist? maybe ask about this if you ring up the AUK nnurses. hope you get the help you need soon! all the best.


  • Oh Laura, that's an awful situation to be in, so frustrating when people don't listen or act on what you say too. Can you see the same GP more regularly or even change practices if necessary? Sorry to any GPs (Cathbear et al?) on here but I don't understand practices like this. My practice is ok but have a rather frustrating consultant who only believes in textbook asthma cases & everything else could be hyperventilation. I have not had any hospital visits yet but am now dubious if I do need to.

    Philomena, I can so identify with the good & not so good GPs from previous practices.

    Do you have any kind of action plan? Usually written or if verbal write up your own? See the info available here under all about asthma & publications. Have you had prednisolone steroid tablets or even antibiotics to keep at home if needed?

    You definitely should see a consultant with that history of ITU admissions & A&E visits. What advice & followup have they given you?

    I also remember a childhood suggestion of asthma but a teacher asking if I had asthma due to an odd cough.

  • Now I think about it yes, agree with others that you should see a cons with that history! Ad try to work out which is the best, or the least bad, of the GPs and stick with them where possible, makes li bit easier and they get to know you. I never have to worry about going through all the same stuff with mine as he knows me and knows I am weird, so we don't waste time but can plunge straight in with where I'm at now.

    As an aside- jinglfairy, yikes! Ventolin every hour you need an ambulance? I have been taking it rather more than that the last few days and lost count...but it stops working for me quite quickly even when symptoms aren't too bad, plus once I went to OOH after 10 puffs in 10 minutes and more before hadn't worked and they said I was fine. Just surprised to see that as I hadn't thought of needing ambulance in this situation, I just carry on (but had been wondering about OOH).

  • Good morning all,

    I'm really thankful for all your responses, i never expected all this!

    I had seen a consultant after my first ever asthma attack, but he swiftly discharged me as i was weaned off all inhalers and had no reason to keep seeing him. I have a contact number of the hospitals asthma nurse specialist, and so guess i should give her a ring about seeing a consultant again.

    I'm also pleased to hear im not the only one who just coughs when asthma is playing up!

    I have never really had an asthma plan as first time round (when i came off all inhalers) i was told to start taking beclomethasone as soon as i started to feel like i needed.

    I've pretty much just made my own asthma plan (with little advice from my husband, a pharmacist), if i feel like things are worsening, to double the inhaled beclomethasone, and if things still are getting worse (and pf is less than normal.. normal=400) to get an appointment with my GP, Ive now got a stock of steroids at home, which i can start if i need. but to then make an appointment with a GP when i start them.

    I remember someone telling me if my peak flow is less than 50% i need urgent help, and if its 50%-75% then i should double inhalers and see dr/asthma nurse.

    I think what i've found from all your help is that i'm gonna have to get used to the GPs at my surgery, and which ones i can talk with about asthma and that seem to know their stuff (and equally, which ones dont!) ive never needed GP for anything more than a one off visit before so its gonna be a long trying process im guessing, with rights and wrongs !

    Also i think i need to make a phone call to the asthma uk nurses, find myself a list of things i want to talk about and get some advice,

    Thank you all again :)

  • Just thought I would add my question to this as it's relevant - is there anything I can do to prevent myself getting infections? I really can't be having time off work every few weeks, and my asthma has actually been much better controlled recently, but when I get an infection things take a nose dive.

    I know vit c has been mentioned before - would that help?

  • So glad you are getting yourself sorted by getting knowledgeable, I had so many asthma attacks from exposure to colds/coughs and viruses that my consultant had to refer me to Great Ormond St. So we could consider preventative measures.It helped too. My consultant said,'he would rather keep me on the road than dig me out of a ditch.'

    You can't avoid them all but you can help yourself, your Gp will help you too. Especially the good ones. Mine got more helpful as I got more ill, so between us all I get to manage the asthma and avoid as many triggers as possible.

    Your asthma plan will help you too and the asthma nurses on here are very informative. The last 4 years have been an education about asthma. I am thankful to those who helped me on this website. My friends and family and all the medical personnel/staff and others have been so helpful too.


  • I have only just read this but would like to say that nearly all my asthma attacks that end up in hospital have been because of a cough/cold. Its one of my biggist triggers, I also seem to live of these as my immunsystem picks them up from a mile away. Hope you get your asthma sorted and the help you need, it can be tough at the start but you can get the help and support from here.

  • I have asthma attacks in cold weather. Even walking about in the cold can have an effect. I have to admit I have now resigned myself to it.

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