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This whole thing started with a coughing fit that was like walking pneumonia, got on antibiotics and it went away a while. Then I started having nightly coughing fits, had a spirometer test and allergy. After spirometry the pulmonologist put me on ProAir and Symbicort. I got off them once I started feeling better. Then suddenly on another night I had a coughing fit at night again, and now on the daily I'll have chest tightness, and shortness of breath. I went to the doctor again and she put me on ProAir HFA inhaler again and wants to start a steroid pill.

I don't want to take steroids and these inhalers make my hands shake (im a musician so that's a problem ) is it possible to get asthma after pneumonia like this ? What should I do ? Is there a natural way to get rid of all this , apparently I've been diagnosed with asthma

13 Replies

This sounds exactly like how my asthma started. I had several bouts of bronchitis after mild colds, every cold ended up with me coughing and coughing for weeks afterwards. It was two years of this before I was diagnosed as asthma and that was after I started passing out due to lack of oxygen. The inhalers came as a complete relief to me. I had been completely unaware before that coughing could be a symptom of asthma.

Have you been given a peak flow meter, if not get one and start taking regular measurements during the day. Make an appointment with the asthma nurse at your GP and explain your problem with the inhalers and your job. There are different types they may be able to try.


The bad news is there's no natural way to make it go away. Asthma is a chronic illness meaning once you have it there's no particular cure. In answer to your question, yes it is possible that pneumonia sparked it off. I don't think anyone knows exactly what makes people get it but there is almost always a trigger of some sort that 'switches it on' in people who have a susceptibility.

However once you get the right balance of medication (and don't stop taking it because you feel better. As you've discovered it just comes back), you will probably get back to enjoying a normal life. The steroid tablets will be a short course & they can have very good effects so I'd take them if prescribed. You'll be off them after a few days probably.

In terms of the shaky hands, what instrument(s) do you play? I probably can't offer huge reassurance here because it is a very common side effect. However it is usually fairly minor (spilling tea into the saucer kind of stuff) so maybe something you will adapt to.

What a nightmare for you!

Reliever inhalers ,such as Ventolin(salbutamol) can certainly make you shake and raise your pulse rate if you take a lot of them. This certainly is the case with me.

I take a steroid inhaler twice daily as a preventative and use ventolin about twice weekly if I am breathless(more often with a cold etc.) Occasionally I find maybe after a bad cold or chest infection that I need a course of steroids by mouth(Prednisolone).

I have found that so long as I take my preventative steroid inhaler(beclometasone) I am fine most of the time.

The specialist is adamant that it is better for my general health and lungs to take a steroid inhaler as a preventative rather than end up on a cycle of relying on my reliever(ventolin). The preventer protects my lungs from inflammation and less ventolin prevents the shakes. He is unconcerned about the occasional short course of oral steroids.

I also have cough variant asthma and rarely wheeze.have been asthmatic all my life(59) and have taken a steroid inhaler for 30 years. I am a music teacher and play the flute. I also am active and able to do walking and swimming etc. No marathons or sprinting though!!

Hope this helps!

As a point of interest I was diagnosed with asthma in 1957(!!!!!) coughed for the next 14 years and was told by the family GP to "stop coughing as it was clear that I was doing it for attention" apparently in the 60's asthmatics were supposed to wheeze....,not cough!!! Fortunately, at the age of 14 , a much younger GP took over and sorted me out with better treatment and a referral to Ormond Street Children's hospital in London. .....and I could finally breathe and was able to take part in sports etc. the same GP advised me to take up a wind instrument to help my lungs....hence the flute!

I am sure that once you get on top of this you will find a preventer which suits you and will be able to take less reliever such as ventolin(however please don't be afraid to take it if you are struggling for breath! )

Please let me know how you get on.

MaggieHP in reply to Triggerina

Triggerina, this sounds so familiar. I was born in '61, developed ezcma at about two months and developed wheeze at three years (so even wheezing was not always enough to get a correct diagnosis). My mother (not an asthmatic, but who had a brother who'd had asthma as a child) spent five years trying to convince the GP I had asthma; he was convinced I had 'a tendency to bronchitis'. Eventually, after I'd had a particularly bad week aged eight, she went to the GP and gave him an absolute blistering. Upshot was he referred me to a paediatrician who had no doubts it was asthma, put me on intal Co, and my life changed completely. My parents couldn't believe the difference it made. The attitude GPs had to asthma in the 50s and 60s continued on through the early 70s. It was not until that latter half of the 70s that the attititude to asthma changed.

I was never good at playing musical instruments, but I did ballet and gymnastics (still do ballet), and although I do get tremors if I take a lot of ventolin (an extremely rare occurrence) taking two puffs is not enough to cause a problem now.

Triggerina in reply to MaggieHP

Hi Maggie,

I was put on Intal Co at age 14. It was like a miracle as I changed from a sickly,extremely thin and weak teenager to an energetic "have a go at anything" maniac! I think I was subconsciously making up for lost time..... I seemed to grow out of asthma for a few years in my early twenties, but when I needed treatment again I was not put on intal but a steroid inhaler which I have been on more or less ever since.

I do wonder if intal would still be better for me but it isnot prescribed any more in UK as far as I have been able to find out.

Are you on a steroid inhaler out of interest?


Keep going with a preventative and I am sure you will be fine. Keep us posted.

MaggieHP in reply to Triggerina

Yes, I'm on a steroid inhaler. I got switched to one when I moved to a different part of the country, aged twenty five, and the intal no longer seemed to be as effective as it had been. The first steroid inhaler I was on was not strong enough and I ended up in hospital (the only time that's happened, though there was a near miss a few years ago - but both episodes came about as a result of a viral infection). I'm on a flixotide 250 accuhaler now, with ventolin to take as and when required, though for very quick relief in an attack I don't think that's as good as the intal co was. And I think the spinhalers were rather better inhalers than some of those available now.

Triggerina in reply to MaggieHP


My family when I was 14 nick- named my Intalco spin healer a "Whizzer"

....and to this day all types of inhalers within my family and extended family are called Whizzers!

It was certainly a very robust thing....I had it for many years....the same one! I wonder what other nicknames there are for inhalers?

I am on Qvar and Montelukast tablets with Ventolin as needed. Seems to work O.K.

Was on Serevent for three years and felt O.K. on it but I asked to come off it about 2 1/2 years agowhen I was in A&E three times in three years having never been in before for asthma and also kept getting chest infections. i have not needed A&E since or had a chest infection.... . may be a coincidence....who knows?!

MaggieHP in reply to Triggerina

We called my spinhaler a 'whizzer' as well. I was on intal Co for around eighteen years and in all that time needed just six inhalers (I had two on the go at any one time - one at home, one with me at school and then at work). As you say, very robust, and easy to use.

Triggerina in reply to MaggieHP

We could start a Whizzer nostalgia club! .....

My first inhaler (sounds like a children's story) was around 1972 & was a spinhaler. I was the only kid in my primary school that had one & I remember getting mucky looks from teachers when I had to take it in class not to mention the whole class staring at me. Doctors knowledge of asthma was terrible in those days. Like you though, even though I didn't get proper treatment until many years later, it gave me a freedom I had never known before & felt like a miracle drug.

On the subject of music though; oddly the one bit of advice my doctor gave me whilst refusing to prescribe inhalers was to go & learn to play the trumpet! Which I did & very nearly ended up a professional brass musician later on. Sadly, in my teens I found I had better things to do than going to rehearsals!

The trembling hands can be an issue anyway & I guess worse for some instruments than others.

That's all very familiar! I'm pretty sure I had asthma from birth (1972). I was a very sickly child who missed more school than I attended. My parents brought me to every consultant they could find, who offered no diagnosis. I remember bringing my pillow (!) to one consultation because my parents had told the doc that I absolutely refused to sleep on fewer than two pillows. He looked at me, looked at the pillows and said that if I was happy sleeping so propped up (so I could breathe) then there was no harm in continuing. No other diagnosis was made. It was barmy.

Finally at the age of ten I was very ill and my mother called the new young doctor in town since our old one had retired. He took one look at me, said that I had 1) pneumonia and 2) asthma. Finally I was prescribed Intal, which was awful stuff and coated your mouth with powder. Yuk.

Anyway, to return to the OP's question, I take Symbicort 400 x 4 morning and night amongst other meds, and it gives me serious tremors in my hands. These die down after a couple of hours though, so if you get in the habit of taking your meds early in the am regularly, you'll probably find you're able to play when you need to. Also if you can get your asthma well under control you'll need little or no reliever, so you'll minimise the risk of additional tremors during the day. Good luck.


Talking of pillows.... One GP told my mum to take my pillows away and make me sleep on my back as it would be better for me!!!!!!!! ....?????

I still HATE lying flat on my back and feel a bit panicky if I ever have to even now! now just one pillow on my front does the trick....

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