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Dr doesn't believe Cough Variant exists

Hiya, Im a newbie though Ive been reading for a while. After 6wks of really uncontrolled asthma (after being very stable for 5yrs) I had a severe attack this afternoon. I went to the Urgent Care place literally next door to home and the doctor I saw told me she does not believe CVA exists and I must just have a cough! Thankfully I had someone with me who insisted I was given a nebuliser (I couldnt speak) but wouldn't prescribe prednisalone and instead gave me a script for cough medicine!!! I didnt even collect it as I know its actually dangerous, as was later confirmed by the wonderful helpline. I am 33 and have been asthmatic since I was 7, officially diagnosed CVA at 14, and while its not always easy to get appropriate treatment I have never had a blatant denial of its existance before. Has anyone else had this problem? If so, how did you handle it? And is there a card or something available we can carry for such situations? At the time, of course, I was firghtened as I couldn'e breathe, now I'm cross and feel let down!

Thanks for any answers :-)

12 Replies


I'm sorry, I don't have CVA, but I have had problems in the past where I've had a truly horrendous night with my asthma, gone to see my GP the next afternoon and by the time he's listened to my chest he's said it's clear and made me feel that I've either made it all up or else grossly exaggerated it. It's so very frustrating and I do really sympathise with that part of your problem. The vast majority of the medical profession do seem to believe that if they can't hear a wheeze then CLEARLY, there's no asthma going on and I don't know why they do because all you have to do is google ""asthma no wheeze"" and a massive raft of links comes up. With all the continuous education they have to do now you would think that someone somewhere would have introduced this concept to them all by now. There is one GP at our practice who is really good and seems to get it but the rest are rubbish. So frustrating and potentially dangerous.

I don't know of a specific card for CVA, but surely you can get a card saying you're an asthmatic? In which case, have you thougt about collecting information on it and carrying a few printouts tucked in your bag? It's not ideal but better than nothing? At least then if it happens again there would be something for someone to read that proves it exists - or would your doctor give you some kind of note to carry round with you? Can you visit your GP and tell him/her what happened and see if he/she has any suggestions?

I don't blame you for being mad, I would be fuming - that treatment is dangerous and could have landed you in resus. I just wish I could offer more practical help x


Grrrrr to ignorance Drs!!!

Do you see a consultant? If so, ask fir a written protocol that you carry with you so that when you need help yoy can show them what treatment your consultant wants you to have.

Others in this site have this and from what I've read this makes a huge difference to what happens to them during an attack.

Hope you feel better soon. X


I second what Angelica said about having a letter from your doctor.

Cough is a symptom of a lot of different things and it helps doctors at Urgent Care/A&E to know that someone has already done the work ruling out other reasons for the cough.



I have cough variant asthma too. I only wheeze when it is really bad. When I was in college, coughing away waiting for the doctor, one of the RNs asked me if I had asthma and asked if I was diagnosed as a kid. I said I was diagnosed with allergies but not asthma as a kid, and she said there had been a change somewhere in the last 20 years where they now diagnosed ""that cough"" as asthma!

Then I have another friend who was diagnosed with asthma since a little kid, and as a married woman she moved and was having some trouble with her asthma, and she had to change doctors a few times because one specialist kept insisting it wasn't asthma. And she ended up on pred. for quite a few months, because by then it was pretty bad.

I like the idea of a note from your doctor too. I carry an action plan with me. It save time, and gets at least most doctors listening.



Have also met several no wheze only coughing not asthma medics

if you can get some paperwork form your GP

or a plan

or an alert on the computer for asthma symptom coughung

it may help

Hope things improve


personally i always carry a bit of paper that gives a whole load of info on my condition and how i need to be treated (and things about how i want to be treated too - if possible no cannulas in my hands kind of stuff). if you had something like that to give them (especially if its written by a doc although i guess that'd be harder to get) shows them exactly what YOU are like, asthma can be such a variable condition, so really i think all asthmatics would benefit from giving info to medics for when we cant talk and defend ourselves. if your stuck as to what kind of stuff to write let me know and i can let you know the kind of stuff i wrote about but i guess everyones different. im lucky in that i almost always get a really 'classic asthmatic' wheeze which can be heard from the corridor in A&E so i tend to get fairly efficient treatment! sorry you were treated so badly, dont forget if you want to complain they did put you in danger and you can always get in touch with PALS


Thanks for the replies. I have an appointment with my gp tomorrow and am currently borrowing a nebuliser from a friend who, thankfully, doesnt need it at the moment but still feeling terrible, my whole body aches from coughing.

Next question I suppose is how do I convince gp to put me back on pred as advised by helpline? They say it sounds like I should be on it until Im stablised, minimum 2 weeks then slow reduction, then referal to specialist if reducing triggers relapse.


My eldest has cough variant asthma and luckily he is rarely ill but when he was tying to get the Dr to understand his asthma was impossible. I left very frustrated indeed.


Hi Sparkle

I know exactly how you feel i am a CVA myself my GP diagnosed this 4 years ago but when i turn up at A & E they don't believe me neither did the oncall doctor. Somtimes you would just like to scream at them when you were having an attack and say for god sake listen to me - been there and did eventually get a neb to prove it.

After an attack you need plenty of rest and keep warm. Take things easy and i hate to say this but your ribs will ache for a few days, if you can take some sort of pain relief which might help you.

Hope this helps


Well had some reasonable success with gp on Friday. He admitted he was out of his depth as I wasnt fitting 'normal' timescale etc so phoned a specialist then called me back later in the day. Im now on 40mg pred daily until I get to see a specialist, hopefully soon. Even so, I am having full blown attacks daily and am in a stupid amount of pain in my ribs etc from the coughing!


Glad you got the pred and a refferral to specialist. Hope these both help. Sorry to hearthat lungs are still stroppy and ribs are still being a pain. I hope things improve and you feel better soon.

Gentle hugs for a fast recovery. Take care.

Rose xx


And the fun continues...

Had a big attack on the Tube a few days ago, managed to get off and into a cafe where I coughed and puffed on salbutamol for about an hour (I was determined not to get stuck in hospital the wrong side of the city) and have had biggish attacks every day for 8 days now. Finally got my specialist appointment through and this 'urgent' appointment isn't until the end of Feb! I am at my wits end and with it like this now, I am dreading what will happen when/if I come of the pred before the appointment (I was prescribed 2wks and had expected the appointment to be in that time too.) Part of me is tempted to try at different GP at the practise and see if I get any better luck, but don't know if I can face going through the 'no, I don't wheeze, Im cough variant' yet again...


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