Cough variant asthma - HELP! - Asthma UK communi...

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Cough variant asthma - HELP!


If anybody has any tips on how to get a referral to a paediatrician I would be very grateful. My son was diagnosed at 11 months with asthma but we had absolutely no sign of it until he started school 18 months ago. Last year he was so poorly with this cough. The GP told us to only use brown inhaler if he was struggling and just 2 puffs of the blue twice a day. Unsurprisingly, it made no difference. It improved over spring, reoccurrence on holiday in the summer and then nothing until the cold snap just after New Year. We have now had a month of this chronic cough. We changed doctors in November and went to asthma clinic, where I was advised 2 pumps of the brown morning and night, and blue as needed. All good until a month ago... Took him to docs after a few bad nights and he was given a month's course of Montelukast. I have since spoken to Asthma UK who have said they're unsure that this was the right course of action. He did seem to pick up but Wednesday he struggled, Saturday was awful and we needed to see a doctor. They said his oxygen was 97% and there's no wheeze...

I believe my son has cough variant asthma so I know these things arent always relevant with this type of asthma. Heart rate was a 100, and the rare occasion he has tried peak flow he is fine. Also able to talk to doctors on Saturday without having shallow breaths.

Right now they think I'm a lunatic mother - how do I get my message across and get him the help he needs?

Sorry it's so long.

13 Replies

The first doctor's advice was rubbish, but luckily you got straightened out eventually. Winter is a trigger for asthma & when youngsters start school the stress/excitement and exposure to a whole new range of bugs & nasties can really cause flare ups for a while.

There's no magic route to see a paediatrician although sometimes with small children GPs will refer just to get a second opinion. However your GP may be of the view that it will settle down.

It can be hard with GPs as they see a lot of unnecessarily anxious parents worried about all sorts, so just take some time to understand what his symptoms are, any triggers you can work out (including any pets you might have, damp, cigarettes, the usual stuff) & any patterns you can observe, then present that & hopefully they won't dismiss you as easily.

Thanks. My GP was lovely. Prescribed 3 day short course, told me to carry on as I was. Got asthma clinic appt next week. Unfortunately my son is coughing again... We think feathers might be a trigger. He's just been sick through and had another nose bleed earlier. Watch this space...

3-day short course of what?

It might sound a bit weird but I'd take a short 20 second video of him when he has these symptoms so you can show the doctors if your worried that they think your just anxious.

It could support your case for a referral.

Hope he feels better soon.

in reply to Katt-37

Thanks - great idea ;)

Ahhhh....feathers! Does he have an allergy to dust/bedmites? Feather pillows are a no-no if he is. You could try him with synthetic pillows instead - most of them are labelled 'hypoallergenic'. As minushabens says try to notice particular triggers, those like dust/hayfever are quite common . The doctors can do some simple tests to determine any allergies, this might be good to discuss at the clinic. Good luck!

Thanks. Had a lightbulb moment last night when we realised two things - firstly we had switched his stuff to hypoallergenic pillows etc but we have family staying and they have his bed. Consequently he has the feather pillows back... And also our duvet is setting him off. It's not a good house for someone with asthma - we back on to fields :/

Once you get the hang of what's what it won't sseem so bad...fields may only be a trigger at certain times of the year for example & you soon get rid of anything you connect to the asthma.

I was an asthmatic child around the time Moses was a lad & we had eiderdowns (no such thing as quilts), lived near fields, lots of animals round & about & numpties for parents so you are already well ahead & getting in control :)

You will get medical treatment from a doctor. This is based on a drug regime which has a tendency not work after a period of time.

There is another route that is worth investigating and that is to improve how the lungs are used. This is a form of physical training which often does not exist in the NHS.

Have a look at what an Alexander Technique teacher can do.

Cough is a physical reaction of muscles to a particular physical stimulant. Change the physical stimulant and the cough may not be present.

When an Asthma attack takes place many people try to breathe in. It is often more useful to breathe out. The atmospheric pressure will inflate the lungs. Whilst breathing in you try and inflate the lungs with muscles which are going into spasm and not functioning correctly.

Often you find many children who have asthma problems have tight chests. The muscles in the ribs are in a contracted state instead of being in a relaxed state. Working on relaxing the muscles on the chest will reduce the possibility of asthma type problems. It will not cure the problem but it will help reduce the problem. Massage therapists would have the skill to relax the chest muscles.

Hope you find this information useful.

Hi there,

Just areas your heartfelt post. I have had asthma since childhood and mine is like many, connected to allergies. For me, I had to give up dairy products all together and my cough went almost immediately. It's worth a try and doesn't cost.

I wish you well with his recovery.


I hope you get a referral. It sounds as though your child needs consistent treatment from someone used to tricky cases. If the GP doesn't offer one, perhaps you could change practice?

I have what I think is CVA (diagnosis of plain asthma for 17 years or so but current doctors seem to think I'm making it all up so waiting to see a specialist).

Glad you are not being told to take the brown inhaler 'as needed' any more. It can take several weeks to build up effective protection with it.

Similarly for Montelukast -- if it doesn't work after a month I would still ask to continue as I've seen 6 weeks given as a trial period (for adults) and in fact it seemed to me to take nearly 4 months to really kick in in my case. You might find if you can hang on in there then things are already improving.

I'm 66 and on montelucast as I have atopic asthma my asthma nurse said a lot of children are prescribed it for allergies especially milk does he have allergies hayfever or have you noticed he gets worse after eating certain foods keep a good dairy ask if he can have allergy tests it could be something he's getting at school milk/food. It's frightening when I get asthma attack it must be much worse for you looking on. Hope he gets help soon this cold weather can't be helping if he is worse outside try a loose scarf wrapped round his mouth

I started to get a cough like this two years ago in the summer. I assume triggered by pollen. It had then been fine in the winters but this year, since January, it's got really bad. I'm now on fostair, montelukast. This year it's been set off by the cold weather, dust, smelling egg fried rice, cigarette smoke, exercise etc etc. After countless gp appointments I finally got a referral but a huge waiting list means I can't be seen until September, and this is despite being admitted to hospital with a flare up the other week. GPs have put me on various courses of prednisolone which get it marginally under control. It is just so frustrating as I am a fit and healthy person, used to go to the gym lots and now I struggle with basic things. I also can no longer sing like I used to. My peak flow is good and chest x ray normal so hard to diagnose.

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