In doubt

First of all. Sorry about the long post. I'm a bit confused about what's going on with my health here. First a bit of background info. I had a cold early in the fall, and was never able to shake the cough. Went to the dr after having been coughing every single day for over 6 months. Dr prescribed me a blue and a brown inhaler and said that I had infection and exercise induced asthma. Used the brown inhaler every day as instructed. The cough was significantly reduced, but I still haven't gone a single day without coughing. To clarify: I went from having many coughing fits a day where I couldn't talk and almost puked, to just coughing "normally" once or twice a day.

Went back to the dr for a follow up a few weeks later. We did a spirometry before and after ventoline (while I was on the brown inhaler). Had FEV1 of 81% and FVC of 104% or something, but no significant change after ventoline. I did however cough up a bunch of mucus a while after the 2nd spirometry, which I usually do a while after taking the ventoline. Dr said since there was no change, he couldn't give me an official asthma diagnosis, but told me to keep taking the brown inhaler for a few more weeks, then stop. I tried stopping the brown inhaler for a few days to see if the cough would come back, which it annoyingly did. 

I don't really have any other symptoms other than cough. I do get a slight whistle at the end of each exhalation at night every once in a while, but I can't tell if it comes from my throat or my lungs. I never really feel short of breath or tight chested, but I did have a constant feeling that I had to cough when I wasn't on the brown inhaler. I have post nasal drip and some diagnosis in my nose which I got when I was a child... Rhinitis or sinusitis or something. Don't remember, but nothing helped against it. I also have multiple allergies and I had childhood asthma. I'm seriously dreading going off the brown inhaler because my life has gotten so much more comfortable after starting taking it.

So I'm wondering; if not asthma, why have I been coughing every single day for 7 months? That can't be normal. Why are the meds working? What is my doctor thinking? 

4 Replies

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  • Hi Hanna

    Talk to the Asthma UK nurse for guidance I think. Personnally I would ask for referral to a Respiratory clinic and/or a 2nd opinion if you have already been. You need a proper diagnostic, you need to know where you stand, what meds to take etc. Get a Peak Flow and measure 3 times a day, keep a journal of symptoms in the meantime.

    Good luck Hanna. Take care xxx

  • The inhalers you are on don't cure asthma, they just control the symptoms so it may be that you're just getting some tightening over & above that which is otherwise being dealt with by the medication.

    The GP is sort of correct that if you aren't getting changes to peak flow, etc. after taking ventolin then that gravitates gainst an asthma diagnosis, but I doubt they will take you off anything that's helping unless it's to replace it with something better for you, so logic would suggest that if you're better on the inhalers than off them, then they should have you on them.

    Have you had any sputum samples taken yet? If not, ask the GP to arrange it as that will show up any bugs in your lungs that might be adding to your problems.

  • Hi,

    Poor you.  Continuous coughing can be exhausting even for those who are not asthmatic.

    A niece of mine had similar symptoms to you: had a bad cold over winter which left her with a persistent cough.  This was quite a problem as she is currently doing some research which means she has to spend quite a lot of time doing fieldwork - not ideal for someone who is struggling with a persistent cough.  She's never had asthma in her life.  When she saw a doctor she was told that the problem was that mucus was still building up and settling on her lungs during the night, resulting in a persistent cough.  Continuing on with her work was, inevitably, not helping.  What worked for her was a nasal decongestant.

    Other things that you might find soothing:  teaspoon of grated fresh root ginger in a mug along with a teaspoon of honey topped up with hot water, makes a soothing drink for a persistent cough.

    Given your reference to 'the fall' I'm assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that you are in the U.S.  Over here in the UK we have something called Vicks Vapour rub, which I find very helpful when I have a lingering cough which is not asthma related.  It feels revolting, but you can rub it on your chest at night and gently inhale the vapour (it contains levomenthol, eucalyptus oil, cedar wood oil amongst other things) during the night.  Again, it acts as a decongestant.  

    I don't know if any of this will help, but I thought I'd share it anyway.

    Hope things improve for you soon.

  • Take regular peak flows, this gives the best indication to asthma symptoms, asthma is a problem breathing out and peak flow measures how well you can breath out. it's how i measure my asthma when i feel unwell. 

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