British Lung Foundation
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Asthma and Vapour Rubs

Hi everyone,

Last time I saw the practice nurse for spirometry she said that asthmatics shouldn't use Vapour rubs like Vicks on their chestif they have a cold. At the time I didn't think to ask why, but now I have a cold and am a bit wheezy as a result. I have always found vapour rubs useful to put on at night. Could anyone tell me if they have heard this too and why it is not a good idea?

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On a serious note it is poss the fumes could irritate the lining of the lungs,,,on a lighter note,,it does wonders for me when i rub it into my wifes chest,,,however wearing a mask at the time does seem like a little bit kinky,,, have a great easter....


As id2409 says - the vapour could irrate your airways and lead to a flare up of your asthma - so not advised at all - and that goes for all lung conditions - and anything with a strong vapour.


Surely, if you've used it lots of times and found it helpful, that must mean it doesn't irritate your particular airways? It's a bit like the fact that lots of asthmatics can't take ibuprofen or other NSAIDs, but others like me never have a problem with them.

But have you tried a steam inhaler instead? Probably more effective than Vick's

Auntymary xx

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I have had asthma for over 30 years ( now emphysema as well ).

Vapour rubs of any kind have always been a no go as they take my breath away.

However...when I have a cold I find that Olbas Oil or your chemists equivalent helps me a lot.

You can use as little or as much as you want and don't have to actually apply it to your chest as sprinkled on a pillow case/hanky works just as well

Jan :)

I find Vick too over powering and the infant one of no use at all and use Olbas Oil, my GP advised me to add a drop to water and inhale, I also add it to a bowl of water over night, or container which hangs on my radiator

It may be because petroleum-based creams etc are supposed to be kept away from oxygen - I keep getting told that they somehow present a fire hazard.


Hi there mark glad to finally find out the reason why it's not good to use vapour rub because I've used vapour rub but didn't get a reason as to why its not good to use on some one who has asthma who happens to be my son who is four years of age but it seams to help him breath a bit better but have noticed that a about three hours later he is in need of more,he also snores & sometimes sounds like he's not breathing even though he is, It's really worrying especially when he appeared to have stopped breathing one time in February it wasn't untill I adjusted his position while quiet that I heard him breathing again & saw any movement in him! so I think as from today no more vapour rub, he tends to snore some times & at other times he can hardly be heard breathing even though he is still breathing! he has the blue inhaler which he hardly has unless he is wheezing or complains of not being able to breath well, he has the brown inhaler which he has twice a day twice in the morning & twice at bedtime then followed shortly after by one sachet of Singulair granuels which he only has once a day at bedtime! I still feel it's quite a lot of medicines to be taken for such a young child,our GP doesn't think so, my son also has hay fever as well as asthma so he has to stay on his medicines,Does it sound like he's taking too much medicine or am I just worrying too much!?plus where can I buy a cessation of breathing monitor that is actually for all ages? I ordered one on line not long age a couple of weeks gone & had to send it back as it is not as what was described on line, when it was delivered to us it turned out to be a baby breathing monitor the BM-02 Nanny monitor that mentions nothing about any other age or for people with respiratory illnesses & only has a product life time of two years when used correctly which of course is no use to us!would you or any one else know of what to buy for peace of mind at night time!?It's only a matter of time before something worse happens like collapse through lack of sleep!?

I see this was a lobg time ago. Thank you for the information. Our child is almost 4 & has asthma. I found Himalayan salt to help tremendously. She is too young for a salt inhaler yet, but I mix the dry salt with rice & she breathes over it. I have been able to reduce her medications greatly!

Hi I have been using Vicks for a couple of days and have diund I'm coughing more and having trouble breathing have just googled and found this post as just reapplied the Vicks after a coughing fit and realised how much I am wheezing g now how long do the effects last as my 6 year old is nagging me to stop coughing as I keep waking her up. Xx

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