Asthma UK community forum
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newly diagnosed and suffering from the dreaded cold!

Hi Everyone!

I've just been diagnosed with asthma a few weeks ago despite having had lung problems on and off for the vast majority of my life! I was born with bronchial pneumonia, then had acute childhood bronchitis up until 16. Then from my early twenties I went through a spate of chest infections (pneumonia, pleurisy). Anyway its taken until I'm 32 for the doctors to decide I'm asthmatic.

My problem is I've just developed a nasty cold/cough and have barely slept the last three nights for constant coughing and wheezing, I coughed so much this morning I was sick.

I'm already taking the max dose of salbutamol sulphate and beclometasone that my GP recommended and I'm struggling to control my symptoms.

Is there any over the counter remedies you can recommend to help alleviate the coughing? Unfortunately I have been advised against the Flu jab as I have another medical condition called ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) which can react badly to the jab. So I guess I'm wondering if anyone has any pearls of wisdom on how to deal with the dreaded cold/cough scenario?

Appreciate any feedback you can give me, Chiara x

10 Replies

Hi Chiara

My flatmate has ME and has had her flu jab - who advised you not to have it?



Hello and welcome to the boards, we are a very friendly little community. Sorry your struggling with your asthma just now, for your cough you could try simple linctus in hot water. Its very soothing when i'm in hospital the nurses always give me that to try to soothe my twitchy tubes. It tastes nice, it doesn't stop the cough but its like a hug in a cup!

I'm a bit concerned that your struggling to control your asthma despite being on the maximum of your inhalers. I don't want to alarm you but i really think you need to be seeking urgent medical advice. Please call your GP or NHS Direct, you might need additional medication until you are well again. Don't worry about it being the weekend just call, its better to be safe than sorry with asthma. Take real good care and let us know how you get on, Lois x


Hi Lois - thanks for the warm welcome!

thankfully I work in a hospital so I popped down to A&E this morning and the medical registrar advised me to up my dose of my reliever if it helps until the cold/cough is over. I did tell him that I've been on the maximum recommended dose for the salbutamol that my GP advised me since the cold began and he didnt think it would be a problem to take a bit more. The problem for me is the non stop coughing I can't lie down and sleep because of it. Prior to the cold I had got myself into a steady situation with only having to use my reliever once a day, now I'm using four times and still struggling. I do feel a bit loathed to dump myself on the A&E department though if there is something I can be doing to help myself...if that makes sense.

The only other advice they could give me regarding the coughing was to take warm honey and lemon drinks, (told me cough medicines are a waste of money) and to eat chocolate with a high cocoa content!

Sarah - my GP advised me against the flu jab because there is apparently anecdotal evidence that having it can trigger a relapse in ME symptoms. He told me the only time he would consider allowing me to have it was if there was an epidemic and he thought I was at immediate risk. How is your friend after the flu jab?? I think I'd be quite tempted to have it if I knew other ME sufferers got along fine with it.

Best wishes and thanks for your replies, most appreciated ;-) Chiara xx


Hello Chiara and welcome to the boards!

sorry your having a rough time at the moment - colds are horrid things.

Glad you saw someone in A&E and please don't be worried about bothering them again if you feel you need to. (eg your reliever not lasting as long) coughing doesn't help with the asthma as you are probably aware. I take hot honey & lemon and have you tried hot blackcurrant? Quite soothing too.

(Though I have some sugar free cough sweets such as halls to suck at night sometimes, though anyt sweet that is soothing can help stop the coughing eg jelly babies!)

Also when you next see your GP ask about an asthma action plan - this will detail your best PF, usual meds (green zone) , what to do if your PF (Peak flow) drops below a certain level (amber zone) eg increase your preventer etc and a bottom line PF / symptoms (red zone) where you should get immediate help.

It will state what to do while waiting for help too!

Does your surgery have an asthma nurse / clinic - well worth going as the nurses can explain about PFs and check your inhaler techniques etc

Regards the Flu jab, I would ask again as getting flu can be very serious for someone with any lung disease. Have you had it in the past?

(I can't have it as I am allergic to eggs which are used in the manufacture of the vaccine)


Hope this helps & Take it easy


PS I like a Doctor who recomends chocolate! Yummm!


Hi chiara, whenever I get a cold and get a really bad cough where you just can't sleep because you are constantly coughing I take night nurse. I know it won't be suitable for all asthmatics but I think its wonderful it just knocks you out so at least you get some sleep! might be worth asking at the pharmacy to see if it would be suitable for you because I swear by it when I get a cold

hope this helps



When I have a really bad cough I sleep propped up to an almost sitting position. I also find sucking lozenges (such as Halls Eucalyptus, Lockets, Strepsils etc) helps. I was surprised about the chocolate suggestion because I found cutting out dairy products helped (milk & cheese). Then again if we're talking really dark / black chocolate that sounds good to me - any excuse for eating that


Hi Chiara,

Sorry to hear you are having problems - I hope things settle down soon. I'm glad you went to A&E; as others have said, please don't hesitate to go back to A&E or to your GP if things don't settle or get worse. Having night-time symptoms is one of the signs of poorly controlled asthma, so it's not something to be ignored.

I just wanted to say re: the 'flu jab: I don't have any experience of it worsening ME, so I couldn't say one way or another, but I do have personal experience of the problems that getting 'flu can cause. (Apologies to all the board members who have heard this story before!)

I have severe/brittle asthma, and didn't get my 'flu jab last year, because I always experience general malaise, aches and pains and worsening of my asthma after it. Unfortunately in January I contracted 'flu and it triggered a severe asthma attack. I developed secondary bacterial pneumonia, the lung complication Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, and then multiple organ failure, myopathy, neuropathy and other complications. I was in Intensive Care on a ventilator for seven weeks, and in hospital for three and a half months recovering and having rehab to enable me to walk again, etc. I was very lucky to survive the experience. I am still suffering from the after-effects now, and have carers coming in, am sleeping downstairs etc, so it is having a significant effect on my ability to lead a normal life. I may not make a full recovery.

Obviously, mine is an extreme example, and I did have fairly severe asthma to begin with, but I would have thought with your long history of lung problems, especially the repeated infections, you would be at fairly high risk of getting complications of 'flu, particularly bacterial pneumonia, which can be extremely unpleasant and dangerous.

Please don't think that I am at all trying to trivialise or play down your ME symptoms; I know it can be an extremely debilitating condition. I do think, though, that a few days or even weeks of worsening of your ME might be a worthwhile price to pay to avoid going through something similar to what I did. I suspect that even uncomplicated 'flu would worsen your ME itself, and bacterial pneumonia probably would even more so.

At the end of the day it is your choice to make and I would not want to council against taking the advice of your own doctor, who knows you. I do think it is worth being aware of the potential risks, though - we so often hear people saying 'oh, I've got dreadful 'flu,' when they have actually got a bad cold, that we forget that true 'flu can be a killer.

Take care

Em H


Hi Chiara

My flatmate (who has ME) had her flu jab a couple of weeks ago and didn't suffer from any increased symptoms. Supporting what Emily has said, flu can be a lot more detrimental for asthmatics - I joined the board last winter and followed her story closely! Would it not be worth making an appointment to discuss pros and cons with your Gp? How are you feeling at the moment? I know you were struggling last week!

Take care



Hi Everyone,

Really appreciate your feedback, kind thoughts and support so much while I'm still finding my feet with this new diagnosis!

By tuesday this week the worst seemed to have been over asthma wise, and apart from a cough where it feels a budgie is tap dancing on my tonsils every now and again the asthmas problems have abated pretty much back to one slight episode a day. I did get a bit of a telling off from the asthma specialist nurse for not seeking emergency treatment...but to be fair to me I am new to this how am I supposed to know when it requires emergency treatment or not considering I have struggled on best part of 12 years with no treatment at all!

Been feeling pretty wiped out ME wise, but thats nothing new with the old cold.

I have discussed at length the pro's and cos about the flu virus before with my GP and he is a pretty modern doctor, willing to try new stuff etc, but he is of the opinion that since I have progressed so well from being housebound and helpless to having a full time job and pretty much a decent standard of living....that its a considerable risk to take and that there is no supportive evidence the flu jab prevents colds.

So I'm stuck in a 50/50 type situation not knowing what to do for the best, my doctor on the whole has been fantastic...I'm tempted to disregard his advice and go for the jab anyway....but scared the much fought for independence I worked so hard for could be jeopardised....


From an ME point of view your gp is following what most ME specialists will advise. I work for two ME charities and most ME sufferers avoid having any immunisations but it all depends on what level you are at. My son is housebound and has asthma and I am not having him immunised this year just like other years as advised by his speicalist but when he starts to get to a level where he is mixing more and out and about I would reconsider.

Well done on your recovery its a hard battle to fight and one I know well myself as I suffered for many years but like you managed to get better and back to normal life.


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