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I have had a really bad cough for the last couple of weeks. I was wondering what cough medecine you can take when you have asthma. Has anyone found one that is particularly effective. Is there anything else I can try that will help clear congestion off my chest- my lungs are tired of coughing!

Getting sleep deprived and frustrated!!!

Any advice appreciated.



2 Replies

Hello Wherrers,

I very rarely take any cough mixtures - the only one I do have is called simple linctus othewise I take a spoonfull of honey, hot lemon & honey or warm blackcurrant.

Some are cough suppressants which is not very good if you have a lot of gunk to cough up & some are expectorants which bring up the gunk.

You will need to ask the pharmasist about which ones that are suitable for asthmatics as some will affect asthma.

Other people here may be able to advise ... ?



Hi wherrers,

Sorry to hear that you are still struggling and feeling so frustrated; I hope you feel better soon.

There are several reasons why you might be coughing at the moment; it may simply be a reflection of poorly controlled asthma, especially if it is mostly bothering you at night, and if this is the case, the increased asthma meds your GP has already put you on should begin to help. If you have a blocked nose and so on together with an irritating tickly cough, it is likely that a cold or other viral upper respiratory tract infection is causing it. If you have a rattly wet cough and you are coughing up green sputum and feeling generally unwell, it is possible that you might have a bacterial chest infection, although this is much more unlikely.

There are many different commercial cough medicine products on the market, sold in various combinations. The evidence that any of them particularly work is fairly scanty. The main types, as Kate has said, are:

Cough suppressants - contain either a weak opioid like codeine or pholcodine or a sedating antihistamine, and work to suppress the cough reflex in the brain. They all have sedation as their main side effect. Cough suppressants can be good for very irritating dry coughs, although codeine and similar drugs should be used with caution in anyone with breathing difficulties. It is also felt that if you have a chest infection, you need to be able to cough to clear the secretions on your chest, so suppressing this reflex might not be a good plan.

Expectorants - these drugs are designed to help you to expel sputum from your chest if you do have a wet cough. There is no evidence at all that they are actually effective.

Demulcents - these are thick sticky solutions containing syrups or glyercol that are designed to have a mechanical effect in soothing your throat and damping down a 'tickly' irritating cough. Some examples would be simple linctus or honey and lemon syrup. They do have some soothing effect, although it often wears off quite quickly. These are worth a try, and are the only ones that I personally would consider taking to ease a cough.

If you feel that you have a lot of gunk on your chest which you are struggling to shift, steam inhalation may help to loosen it up, especially if used with your salbutamol inhaler.

If things are not settling, you are feverish or are coughing up green sputum, or you are getting more breathless or getting less relief from your salbutamol, you should contact your GP again for an urgent review.

Hope this helps

Em H


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