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Asthma attack and losing your voice

Hey all,

Yesterday I spent the day in A & E and they kept asking about my voice, every time I have an asthma attack I lose my voice or it becomes hoarse but no one has ever picked up on it...does this happen to anyone else?

Any advice/ similar experiences would be appreciated



23 Replies

i've had that as well!!!!

I had a period where my voice was very vulnerable anyway and used to go when i had a cold / asthma flare or sometimes just randomly. I was investigated / tested for polyps which came back negative, the ENT specialist said it was my vocal chords not closing properly. i was sent to speech therapy which was very effective

Now my voice only tends to go when i have a serious excaserbation (sp?) - like when i do the triathlon once a year haha

Sorry this is not very helpful, i have linked the voice loss to my asthma but no medical professional ever has but i just thought i'd let you know you're not alone


Not sure if it's related but last year when I had no control whatsoever I lost my voice. Then again, I also had tonsillitis and a weird ear thing. However, since then my voice goes randomly (or what I thought was random!). After thinking about it, my voice went today after the gym and when I was surrounded by freshly cut grass. Interesting.

I will be interested to read the other comments on this!


Often, losing my voice or at least it becoming scratchy is the first sign of an asthma attack that is not quite bad enough yet for me to notice.

Any time I have a bad or protracted one, my voice goes almost completely. Being able to talk 'normally' is my sign that it's over. I'm never quite sure whether it's about the relievers, the dehydration or just not having enough breath control on exhaling to make the sounds properly, but it's a very consistent symptom for me (without having VCD).

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Ahh very interesting,

I have been tested for acid reflux and things but they are confident that its asthma rather than anything else.

Ta for the replies though :)

Becca xx


Do you mean like when you have a cold or not being able to produce the sound properly? In the middle of my worst period I used to arrive at choir and have to sit for a while before I could sing because the journey made me so breathless I couldn't produce my voice properly. It wasn't exactly 'unable to speak in full sentences' but it felt like the sound was slipping back down my throat, if that makes sense, and I couldn't produce it.

When y'all get this (just going Southern there for a moment hehe) does it feel like throat closing up or like chest having to work to get things out, which is what I had recently during a flare? I was pleased with the vocal production but it felt like my chest was working pretty hard to push the air out (GP told me to stop trying for a bit).

Other than that I don't think I get this but was curious to see if my experience was like anyone else's. Finding it weird that I supposedly do have VCD, or at least some vaguely unspecified larynx/throat problem, but I never really get any kind of symptoms in my throat like it closing up or anything. I have got hoarse on random occasions but it hasn't been remotely correlated with any breathing issues.


I use symbicort as a preventer instead of seretide as I am also a singer and found that seretide resulted in my voice quality being poor. I still loose my voice now when I feel an asthma attack coming on, it's one of the signs for me, but I can control it better with ventolin. My doctor still thinks its a coincidence.


Do you cough during attacks? Coughing does not do nice things to the vocal chords.

If I'm going through a rough period, my speaking voice will sometimes fade in and out and my voice will get a bit hoarse. The middle register of my singing voice sometimes develops a wobble as well. But that is something that usually develops over the course of several days where it is just a bit harder to breathe in an on/off way, but not actually an out and out sudden attack.

I think the voice fading in and out is a breath support issue. If there is enough resistance/inflammation in the lungs, I've not only got to support the voice, but also push through all the resistance. As for the wobble and hoarseness: I understand that as coming from muscle fatigue in the larynx. When I'm having trouble getting support from the diaphragm, I end up using the larynx for extra support (a.k.a. speaking/singing in the throat) and it gets tired.

Steroid inhalers can make a voice hoarse. I recently had the steroid component of my maintainer doubled and for the first week or so, my speaking voice was really hoarse. Thankfully, it went away after I got used to the extra dose.


I have just read this, and it actually rings true for me too.

Every time I have an attack my voice goes. When in OOH?walk in/A&E etc I am always treated for a chest infection as the cause of my attack even when I know that its not the trigger - last weekend I even refused the abs because I KNEW I didn't have an infection!!

I always put it down to the amount of salbutamol I have before usually crawling to get help. I take also Seretide (2x250 2x a day through a spacer), but don't find that it makes my voice go funny.

Thanks for that food for thought, perhaps its an indicator of when you're about to/having a serious attack?

Laura :-)


I have been following this message with interest because I also find that my voice goes hoarse, I put it down to side effects of the medications I am on but now reading this posted message and replies it has got me wondering if its due to a severe asthma flare ups, coincidently I did have a severe asthma attack today in the X Ray department at my local hospital and caused concern for the staff that worked there, strangely enough my voice this afternoon and evening has been hoarse. I used 18 puffs of reliever and nebbed 3 times today.

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Yes, my DH indicator that he is going to have a flare up/asthma attack is if his voice goes/gets croaky in the absence of a cold which is useful for him as he can step up his meds and usually that helps avoid a serious attack that needs A&E.

I on the other hand seem to get it after the attack, so not so useful!! I think mine is due to breathing with mouth wide open to try and get in as much oxygen as possible so my mouth/throat get so dry.

Also when away from home once and I ended up in hospital they used bricanyl nebs instead of salbutamol and my voice disappeared completely!!

So probably is the combination of breathing harder and increased meds to get the attack under control x


heya Becca

yes if i have a bad attack i cant speak at all but normally comes back as soon as i start to recover but thank god i have not had a bad attack in a year or so happy about that but if i end up on nebs always feel i cant speak most of the time as well but don't be worry about getting help with you asthma if it is a bad attack there is a 999 text services witch is free you just text ambulance bad asthma attack cant speak you address and they are there in a flash i have used this 1 time before its a gr8 think to have saved on your phone

hope this helps take care



For me, losing my voice isn't necessarily a sign of a serious attack on the way, but it is a sign of an exacerbation. Aside from hoarseness, when I'm having a bad asthma day, my voice fades in and out when I talk (so friends say). I can often feel that I'm working harder to keep the air flow going behind my voice.

The connection to serious flares comes because once my lungs are already compromised, I'm a lot more reactive to triggers than I normally am. When my lungs are in good shape, I can walk past a cigarette with nothing more than a little bit of a quiver in the bronchial tubes. But If I have had several bad asthma days, then cigarettes even a long way off (10m) will cause from the gut coughing fits. If enough triggers pile on, ....

If you are finding yourself going hoarse or having trouble speaking in the hours before a serious flare, maybe this should be discussed with your GP and a preventive plan be put in place? Better to stop an attack before it happens, then let things ride and end up having to do clean up after lungs have thrown a major temper tantrum.

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When you have an asthma attack your may wheeze. You voice will sound high pitch, almost difficult to talk. It is very important to use your rescue inhaler when u have an asthma. The Ventolin 100 mcg 4 puff every 20 mins until you reach the hospital or become stable. Remember to be compliant with your medication


Paul, I think the majority of people use their asthma meds as they should!! I know I (and others I know with any degree of it) am very careful to use meds as they should be. During an asthma attack you can take 2 puffs of salbutamol every 2 mins upto 10 puffs. After 2 mins if its the same/worse you bed to call 999.

I don't wheeze necessarily, but do loose my voice. It's not a nice experience having an attack and meds not working as you hope they will. Most people want to avoid serious attacks and therefore take them seriously!!


The biggest problem facing health care professional now is mis use of medication. If you use your medication correctly I congratulate you. When you say every 2 min do you mean 20 mins?


During a severe attack I wouldn't be able to last 20 mins on two puffs of Ventolin, sometimes i cant even last a full two mins and just go to ten puffs, wait 5 mins and then another ten, if that doesn't help then i ring 999 and take two puffs every two mins. I doubt the *main* problem facing medical professionals is mis-use of medication, and even more so for the people on here, most of us are on an awful lot of medication in an attempt to control their asthma and take it properly as many of us are very symptomatic a lot of the time!

I would suspect few of us are non-compliant! (despite my moments when i want to stop all my meds, i never have!)


No I mean every 2 mins. In an exacerbation I can take up to 10 puffs in a 20 min period. If that doesn't work then I need hospital. It's what is recommended by all guidelines and by mg gp. I don't always listen to my own advice, but this works for me :-) its do very complicated and a lot of us on here are not what you'd call ""typical"".



Ok i understand what you are saying now. The interval you will use depend on the severity. As in must Asthmatic patient it how well they respond to the treatment. Its usually Ventolin 4-10 puffs every 20 mins. The interval you take those dosing is of little importance since the on set of salbutamol inhaler is about 25 mins.


I usually respond to salbutamol within a few mins. It's a fast acting beta agonist and works within mins. Most asthmatics need urgent help if they need a large amount in a short space of time. Most asthmatics understand how important it is to take their meds as they should and the potential consequences of not doing so. I hav me certainly found salbutamol works quicker than 25 mins!! There are certainly times where I would be very unwell if it was so slow!! I do however only use my rescue meds when absolutely necessary!!


Ok i am going to ask you a question. What is the recommended time to use salbutamol before exercise to prevent exercise induce exacerbation?

Second what are the different dosage form of salbutamol?


10 to 15 mins before exercise, why? salbutamol doesnt take full effect immediately, but it does start taking effect immediately (even if you cant tell immediately).

what do you mean by different dosage forms? As far as im aware, standard advice is 2 puffs of 100mg of salbutamol for 'normal' symptoms, if 10 puffs does not help then you need help (unless being adviced otherwise for whatever reason)

then there are 2.5mg/2.5ml and 5mg/2.5ml nebs, and i know you can have IV salbutamol too. Those are generally given in a hospital setting and neb-wise you *can* have loads, not sure ive ever had more than 10 in a row, personally though!

does that answer the questions you were asking? were they just questions or making a point?


My recommendation is always 15-20 mins. Some health professional may even go to 3o mins depending on the level of control. When it comes to asthma treatment as i say before it depend on the patient response. The 20 mins is a limit where a clinician will expect some response. This is because some bronchodilation is seen within 30 seconds and 50% of maximum response occurs within 3 minutes.

The time of response is using related to the dosage from whether oral ,nebs, or inhaler. The nebs are usually the fast acting rescue used over Iv. Nebs are inhaled directly into the lungs producing a rapid response.


pretty sure standard advice is 10-15 mins, the internet seems to generally agree with that, and AUK says immediately before you warm up. I wouldn't personally go to half an hour as i want to ensure the salbutamol is working for the full exercise session and as exercise is a big trigger for me it wont last as long as it ""should"" for most. Although if, as you said, 50% of bronchodilation occurs within 3 minutes, then 10 seems perfectly adequate, as does taking 2 puffs every 2 minutes.

i dont understand what you mean when you say ""nebs are used over IV"" when I say IV, i mean intra-venously (i think) so it goe sinto the vein, which as far as i know is only done in hospital settings in severe attacks. Both nebs and inhalers are inhaled directly into the lungs, response vareis. In theory ten puffs of inhaler through a spacer is as effective as a nebuliser, although in practice many people do find nebs more effective, inhalers would be quicker (if you do respond) as the full dose is taken much faster.


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