When to worry about a cold

Hiya. I think I might have a cold. I have cough variant asthma and rhinitis so it's not always easy to tell. It's been a while since I had one...

My asthma had been good to the point of not needing a preventer until about 6 weeks ago. Then I started needing bricanyl more and more often, so I went back onto symbicort SMART. I also take montelukast and avamys for my rhinitis and fexofenadine for urticaria (I've had allergy tests and all came back negative, but in any case the fexofenadine should cover that).

Today I woke up feeling like someone was sitting on my chest and my lungs feel really really scratchy. I've been sneezing a bit and have a dry cough. If the cough is more productive it temporarily relieves the chest scratchyness. I'm also feeling really sensitive to pretty much anything that smells - the oven being on, deodorant, washing up liquid all make me cough when they don't normally. I've had about 5 puffs of symbicort as a reliever today, which hasn't done a lot to relieve the symptoms. I don't really feel like talking a lot or doing anything vaguely energetic that'll get me out of breath, but other than that I don't feel too bad.

My peak flows are always good, as I have small airway disease only (my large airways are fine). So even when I'm feeling utterly rubbish I still blow around 400. I've had bags of fun trying to explain that to GPs in the past when they start insisting I don't have asthma (I was diagnosed by a consultant).

Thoughts? Should I book in to see the GP if I'm still like this tomorrow? Thanks!

6 Replies

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  • Hi a doctor can't do anything about a cold but if you feel you are having an exacerbation then you should go as you might need steroids to clear it. If you cough up coloured gunk then you probably have a chest infection and might need ab's as well.

    You don't always cough up coloured gunk with a chest infection as it can be clear, but if you are feeling ill as well (like the flu) then it still could be one.

    The main thing if you are not sure its better to go and there be nothing wrong than not and there is. Don't take any chances with your lungs please.

  • Thanks. I'm not worried about the cold itself, but whether this might be an exacerbation (started by a cold, or not, as the case may be). And I'm not sure I can tell them apart. I'm not coughing up anything yet, as so far my cough is dry. But I do feel quite tight chested and just generally more sensitive. For instance, if my asthma is well controlled cigarette smoke doesn't irritate me, but right now just looking at a cigarette would probably give me a coughing fit...

  • From what you say this just sounds like a normal cold to me. As you know its common to cough more and feel tight chested with one. I would give it a few more days to see if it will clear itself. My nurse told its ok to use my blue reliever inhaler more and even to have an extra puff of my preventer.

    However if you start to feel ill with it or your breathing is compromised then I would visit the doctor.

    I saw something online about how to tell an exacerbation so will google and put it on here for you.

  • Hi can't find it but here is the number for asthma.uk. You can call and speak to an asthma nurse office hours 0300 222 5800

  • Do you suffer with hay fever or allergic to tree and grass pollen? It is hard to tell whether it is a cold, sinus infection, chest infection and hay fever. I am like this at the moment and think I have a sinus infection blowing down green gunk but it could be a cold! I think sometimes it is safer to go to the doctors to get a course of antibiotics and maybe steroids before it gets any worse.

  • The only way I can tell for certain if I have a cold or rhinitis is from the first symptoms: if it starts with itchy eyes it's invariably rhinitis; if it starts with a sore throat or cough plus feeling shivery after a bout of coughing, it's a cold.

    Hope you feel better soon.

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