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What to ask the doctor?

Hi, wondered if anyone could give me some advice?

I've had a virus for a couple of months now, which has recently developed into a hideous cough, with fits where I just can't stop coughing, which not suprisingly sets off my asthma. I've already been to the doctor once (I saw a locum), hoping that they could give me something to stop the coughing, but apparently not. The advice I got was ""You've not got a chest infection, have some antibiotics just in case & take your inhaler (Ventolin) more often"". Admittedly I've not taken the antibiotics as I got the impression they were just to make me go away.

Currently I'm only on the reliever, but I'm going back on Thursday, hoping to get a short course of a preventer to keep me going until I've got rid of the cough.

Now, I don't have huge confidence in my doctor (I had previously asked for an alternative to Ventolin because of the side effects & been told there was nothing, which I've since found out from here isn't true) so I was wondering if anyone could help me with anything specific that I should be asking for?

Thanks for your help


5 Replies

Is it not possible to see an alternative GP? you need confidence in your doc for a condition like asthma!! phone the auk advice line for advice to take with you to see doc.

good luck

andrea xxx


Hello Sharon,

If you do get a preventer inhaler with steroids in, it can take up to 3 weeks to build up in your system and work plus you should really then take it all the time to maintain that protection. Don't stop taking it if you feel better. Only stop taking it if advised by a GP and then ask them why.

An alternative to Ventolin is Bricanyl but has similar side effects. Taking too much of any of these two can give you the shakes and a more rapid heartbeat.

there are also other forms on inhalers - the main 2 are MDI aerosols and the dry powder ones. A different type of ventolin may help?

How much ventolin are you takin a day?

Regards antibiotics, Doctors should know better than just to give them out just in case - they are only effective against bacteria and not Viruses.

Taking them just incase or not finishing a course increases the chance of antibicotic resistance in the bacteria.

Hope this helps



Thank you for your replies, you've both been really helpful.

I'd not even noticed the helpline number, though I now don't quite see how I'd missed it! I'll definitely get in touch with them, thanks for pointing it out.

I didn't realise the preventers took so long to start working, at least it would be doing something by Christmas though.

I really don't think I need one long term, before this bug hit I'd been concentrating on my diet & doing Bueteyko breathing exercise & not used my inhaler for 6 weeks (yes, I know how lucky I am to be that mild!), now a good day is still only about 4 doses (ie 4x2 puffs) of the Ventolin, but a bad day I can be doing 3 in an hour.

I'll also be booking an appointment with my asthma nurse (currently a 3 week wait!). She seems to be far more helpful than the GP, so I can talk to her about different types of inhaler & about strategies for coping with any viruses in the future.

I'm always shocked how readily doctors prescribe antibiotics. It's certainly not the first time one's tried to force them on me. Usually I argue but if I've not got the energy then I just take the script but don't use it. On top of the issue of the increase in resistance they tend to make me feel lousy too!


hi Sha,

Your cough sounds very similar to the one i have, altho it may not be of course. I devolped a cough back in around may or june, kept going to dr's cus it was upsetting asthma and making me sick, got told the same as you, it's a virus, not a chest infection, was given antibiotics (just in case), i took mine and did feel a little better, well i was producing so much gunk. Anyway, i still have my cough :( It is much better than it was, so it does seem to be going, just taking it's time, i hope however, that isn't the case with you cough.

You said you had problems with Ventolin, is it Ventolin or the actual drug, Salbutamol? You may just need a different brand of Salbutamol. For example, i use an inhaler called Salamol, it still has Salbutamol in but is just made by another company.

If you're not happy with your GP, perhaps you could see another dr within your practise?

Good luck and i hope you are feeling better soon!



Well, my doctor obviously has good days & bad days! This time she was really helpful & gave the same advice as I got here & from the helpline. I've now got a beclometasone inhaler & five days worth of prednisolone so I don't have to wait for the inhaler to kick in. She agrees I shouldn't need the beclometasone full time & I've an appointment with the nurse on the 11th to see how I'm doing & talk about when to step down (& when I'll need to step back up again).

Lungs are already starting to feel a little calmer & I'm not getting out of beath so easily, which seemed to be something that triggered my cough. Don't know what's from drugs & what's from being too exhausted to gt out of bed much the last few days though! Now all I need is my energy back!

Hope your cough goes soon Christine, sounds different to mine, which is kind of odd as it's chesty yet dry & feels like it's coming from my upper chest, weird!

Re my preventer problem, it does seem to be the salbutamol I have a problem with, I've had the Ivax one too & no better. Someone here suggested trying not to take it on an empty stomach, which has helped a little, though obviously not something I can manage every time. I'll tal it through with the nurse (having printed out all suggestions from here!) & see what she says.


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