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British Lung Foundation
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Hi Everybody!

Just joined this site...just had to get up after finding it hard to breathe...I am 55 and have been on my Blue and Brown inhalers over 5 Years now! I gave up smoking almost 5 Years ago...although my Lungs have improved....I'm finding after taking my inhalers...I'm coughing up for almost 2 Hours when I take it Morning and Night...it's definitely getting worse....Also when I eat I have to cough up too....is anyone out there that is having similar symptoms to mine...I've been told no two People have the same...but I'm not a believer of that saying! Be grateful of any Tips or advice to help me....this is taking over my Life:(!

18 Replies

How are you using the inhalers? Do you have a spacer device or do you use them directly into the mouth? Have you been shown the right way to use them ?

The blue inhaler is mainly to help you if you have problems with the breathing. It is termed a 'reliever' and should improve your breathing after a few minutes.

A brown inhaler is a steroid, mainly given to reduce inflammation.

You are missing the 'preventer', often a green inhaler but could be something else. Sometimes a purple inhaler is given, which is a 'combi' - combining the green and brown. Speak to your GP about this, I'm not saying you must have the preventer, they may have reasons for not using one in your case - 'no two people are the same' of course! - but the info I have is that they should not be giving the brown one without. "Steroid inhalers are only used in combination with a long-acting beta-agonist inhaler (this can be with two separate inhalers or with a single inhaler containing two medicines)" from patient.co.uk/health/inhale... (perhaps worth a read)

Using a spacer device is supposed to help the medication get into the lungs better by dispersing the dose into a 'cloud' that you inhale via the spacer, where as a direct blast into the throat can leave half the stuff on your tongue or on the back of your throat, where it gets swallowed, rather than breathing it in. There should be advice given to rinse your mouth after using the inhalers too.

I'm taking it you've been for regular check-ups and they've ruled out anything else that could be causing the coughing? The campaign from earlier this year about '...if you have had a cough more than 3 weeks...' springs to mind.

You could do to be speaking with a COPD nurse and check that you are using the inhalers correctly. Call the BLF helpline, 10am to 6pm weekdays, on 03000 030 555. Have a chat with the nurse and see what they can suggest.

Medication is supposed to make you feel better, not worse. It could be that you don't get on with the brown inhaler, your GP can perhaps change to a different one to see if that cures it. I went through that phase as I was getting a dry, sore throat with mine and I was working on the radio at the time, so couldn't do with having a bad throat like that. We changed the inhaler type a few times before settling on the one I have now.

Hope that helps. If it were me I'd experiment a bit, and see what happens for a day or two of not using the brown one. ;-)


2 weeks ago I coughed so hard for 40 minutes, sort of in a panic to breathe and get out anything that seemed to be blocking that abibility. The next day I lost my voice mostly with a very few letters coming out of my mouth. It has been about two weeks now and an RN told me to gargle with salt water three times a day. Today is the first day I have now gargled two times and will try again tonight to remember to do it again. Hope the gargling helps you with the dry and sore throat.


Hi there, and welcome. I would ask at your GPs that your technique for using the inhalers is correct, or request a spacer, especially for the brown 'preventor' inhaler. You could also ask whether Carbocisteine tablets would be of help as they reduce and thin the excess mucus on the lungs making it easier to clear it. Take care, Richard


Hi there, I also used to use a blue and brown inhaeler when I was diagnosed with asthma. Several years ago I was diagnosed with COPD and the brown (steroid) inhaeler was changed to a red Symbicort inhaeler (plus the blue one for relief which I very rarely use). I take a puff of the symbicort in the morning and again at night and it lasts for 12 hours. I am also 55 and gave up smoking 3 years ago. I have found the symbicort a great improvement and would reccommend you see your doctor and ask for a change in medication. Good luck!


Hi, like you i gave up smoking when i found that i had COPD and i am on three nhalers per day ventolin symbicort [turbohaler] and Spiriva capsules.

But as you say no two are the same but please talk to your practice nurse and tell her what is happening then she might be able to help and advise you.

Good luck


I have been on Spiriva for sometime and find it very inconsistent in using it and wondered if anyone else found the same thing. It seems one day when I suck the inhalation is very easy and the little capsule just vibrates like crazy and the next day it is like I am sucking through straw with the end pinched shut and while the capsule is definitely moving it is not near as much as at other times. You have to suck so hard it feels like your head will colapse. I thought perhaps it was becase it was a day when my breathing wasn't as good but it is not and now that I have a PEF meter I have also checked that and my breathing is what it would normally be. Would like to hear if anyone has similar expeiences with Spiriva.

Thank you


Hi I am finding the same with my spiriva and the tablets. I am thinking of asking my doctor to change it because sometimes it is really hard to breathe it in. It is making me feel sob and lightheaded. Also sometimes the tablets wont come out of the sealed packet and I have had to resort to using scissors to cut them out. Have lost a few that way.

Bev x


I'm certainly glad to hear that I am not the only one. Before I had the meter I thought perhaps my lungs weren't functioning nearly as well some days but the meter I have proves otherwise.

You mentioned you were considering asking yoru doctor to change them. Do you mean to a different type of medicaetion or is there a different method of delivery for Spiriva?

Thanks for the reply


Hi Jack there is another method of delivery for spiriva - an inhaler. Have idea though that this has been discontinued. I think Serentide performs much the same function as spiriva and will ask my COPD at my next check in November.

Will let you know. x


Great, thanks


I talked to the company that makes Spiriva and the lady I talked to gave some things to try and although it has only been two days both days it worked as it should. First thing was not to store the capsules in either the kitchen or bathroom because the potential higher humifity can cause the ingredients to clump. Second when you take out the package of capsules give it a tap against a counter or table which helps to loosen up the powder in case it has clumped for one reason or another. Third when you put the capsule in the handihaler tap the handihaler on the table a couple of times to loosen up the powder in the capsule, and to make sure the capsule is properly seated in the chamber, and before puncturing the capsule set the handihaler upright on the table and have it sitting there when puncturing the capsule as this makes sure the capsule is in the proper position and gets punctured correctly which it may not do if you are holding it at an angle. The last thing is to be sure to hold it completely flat/horizontal when inhaling.

So far it seems to have helped for me, although it has only been two days so time will tell, and hopefully this will work for you as well.


Thanks Jackdup will try all you suggest. Though as I take mine in the morning and I am very sluggish then I might be all fingers and thumbs! :)


I'm sure no worse than I am. ;-)

This morning wasn't quite as good as yesterday but still much better then many days I have had in the past. So far the suggestions seem to be helping quite a bit.


Hi Catbelljan

Welcome to the web community - i hope you find lots of information and support here.

I would suggest the first thing to do would be to speak to your nurse/GP about your current treatment and the problems you are experiencing. What condition have you been diagnosed with? Generally speaking you should be monitored every year with a spirometry test and to have a medication review. Until this coughing started was everything OK, did anything trigger the problems? Inhalers are not a 'one size fits all' and people may need their regimes 'tweaking' to get it right.

You can call our nurses on he helpline who will be more than happy to discuss this with you - 03000 030 555.

I hope this helps, please let us know how you get on.




Hi Catbelljan. My coughing starts in a 3 weekly cycle, 3 weeks coughing then 3 weeks respite, it virtually makes me housebound for the 3 weeks coughing, eyes water, nose runs, sleepless nights, and when I cough I feel as if I am choking and then my bowels voluntarily open up, go through Tena Lady's like there was no tomorrow for that 3 weeks.Had this for over 1 year. One Dr said nothing she can do, but now have new Dr so I am going to see him. There must be something out there than can be of help to me, I have been about Manuka Honey and the values of it but I am not convinced.

Read about Mucolytis Capsules to thin the phlegm,it isn't actually phlegm it is just white spume but I can't swallow it so use 100's of tissues to spit into, disgusting I know but it has to be done.

Tried Steroids but couldn't get on with them.

Not complaining really just happy to still be here. lol


Hi. I've also just joined the site, having been recently diagnosed with copd. Although not coughing for so long, I also had that problem. I found that taking the inhalers with two breaths instead of one helped. Might be worth a try.

One thing I found was a general lack of information from the GP. A case of "You've got it, get on with it" Thank goodness for sites like this


Hello my copd friend. I too was diagnosed 5 years ago with copd, but not being as smart as you I didn't quit smoking until about 3 months ago. Progressively I find myself getting worse to the point I had no choice but to quit as my breather ( lungs ) didn't want to work anymore. Wish I had of quit when I was diagnosed. ( STUPID ME ) Anyway, back to you. Go to your doctor and have your inhalers changed. The same thing happened to me so I went back to the VA ( veterans administration hospital ) they changed my inhalers which helped 50% in my coughing. Didn't improve my breathing, but the countless hours of COUGHING are gone.

Just a suggestion that you might want to try.


I'm on Spiriva and my Pro Air Inhaler (this one to carry with me in case of an emergency). I also do two Nebulizer meds a day, plus I have a portable oxygen machine by my bedside. Sleeping with the oxygen most of the night keeps me from wheezing and coughing all night long, so I have been getting some relief during the night which is "a breath of fresh air." Hallelujah! I have also been diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation having to do with an error happening with the rhythm of my heart beat. It is an electrical issue. The COPD panics the heart into thinking it is also in a life and death state, so it beats harder to try to get the oxygen into my lungs. I have good oxygen coming into my lungs, but it cannot get out the bad stuff, so my body is really confused. RN's say this is an issue that probably won't get better. I am 73 now and used to walk 2 to 4 miles most days of the week, but I also smoked 1/2 pack a day for many years until 2008. I do what I can to avoid hot weather and overcast days where I do not do well in the different weather changes due to chemicals in the air (chem trails). My Nebulizer and sleeping with the portable oxygen thing that goes in my nose most of the night has really helped me sleep better. I still get out with my girlfriend to see a movie, go grocery shopping, church and play games at one of their houses for fun. I pray everyone with this disease has lots of friend support. It really keeps you going. Go slow, and be sure to tell your friends you can't walk as fast because you'll start wheezing or get out of breadth. Friends are the best. So sorry you have this when you are so young.


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