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intermittently persistent cough: is it really asthma?

(18 Posts)
bonzo77 Sun 04-Nov-12 21:05:24

it's been going on for at least a year. It starts with a respiratory infection, even a mild sniffle. I then get a cough that lasts for about 4-6 weeks, settles then recurs with the next cold. The cough itself varies, from being completely dry, to being a bit "wet" to being occasionally productive (very small amounts of light green sputum in the mornings only). It is definitely worse in colder weather, and with environmental irritants (dust, aerosols). It is also worse at night.

For most of this period of time I have been pregnant. I got pregnant last september, had a miscarriage and then d&c in January and got pregnant again in April. I'm now 31 weeks. I'm sure that the hormonal fluctuations and physical stresses have not helped. However, I did not have this while pregnant with my son (now 2.8).

The only time I had a protracted stint of relief was this summer, but I had a flu jab at the end of September and I've been coughing ever since (probably unrelated). This has probably been the longest its gone on for.

My GP has diagnosed me with asthma, and given me a salamol inhaler. She has also just given me a prescription for a clemil one which I am getting tomorrow. I understand that these are fine in pregnancy and intend to use them as directed.

I just want it sorted! I'm exhausted, the coughing + pregnancy means I wee myself a bit most days. I don't want to go into having a new born again and being woken not only by baby but my cough (and the cough waking the baby). Does this really sound like asthma? There is none in my family, I am not usually a atopic person, and have no allergies at all. I used to smoke up to 20 a day, but gave up in July 2009 when I found out I was pg with DS.

sashh Sun 04-Nov-12 22:47:12

Yes it sounds like asthma. Some people only get a cough, usually in the morning. The inhalers will help.

bacon Sun 04-Nov-12 22:59:30

Sounds like catarrh, the cough can be 1. because you have mucus or 2. no mucus and dry nose/throat. Dont underestimate coughing because of catarrh.

I had the most horrendous pregnancy rhinitis (worse at night) I was so blocked up due to the additional hormones, I would wake up panicing as I couldnt breathe and I had to have nasal sprays sadly it hasnt gone away and I suffer a lot (I also have no allergies and no family history)

You could try a product called sterimar from boots its a water based nasal spray that lubricates all the pipes. This is turn lubricates the throat. Boots do good bronical losengers that you suck, smell terrible but work.

Surely with asthma you wheeze, not a continual cough. Surely the chest sound indicate asthma?

A few months ago on Jeremy Vine they were taking about coughs the whys etc, and it still baffles the experts, some people have a continual cough but for no reason.

LapinDeBois Sun 04-Nov-12 23:09:35

No expertise to offer, but thought I would share my experience. I'd never had asthma before, although there is a history of it in my family. When I was pregnant with DS2 (now aged 2) I had a persistent cough most of the way through my pregnancy, which was very irritating and also very painful at times. The baby was born in the August and the cough eased considerably, though not completely. Then, the following February I got a chest infection (probably pneumonia), which didn't present with any symptoms as such, so I didn't know I had it, until one night I had a severe asthma attack which left me basically unable to breathe. I didn't call an ambulance because I didn't really know what was going on, but was told very sternly later that I should have done. Anyway, the next morning I went to the GP (still not breathing properly) and was admitted to hospital for three days, and diagnosed with temporary asthma caused by pneumonia. After I recovered, I was still convinced it was a one off, but after that, every time I got a minor cold I became very breathless, and frequently had to use the inhaler they'd sent me home with. Eventually, last winter, I was diagnosed with adult onset asthma and given a preventer inhaler to take twice every day, which I do. Since then, I haven't had any cough or breathlessness, and haven't used the reliever inhaler once. I guess what I'm trying to say is, take your doctor seriously, even if you want to seek a consultant opninion as well. Looking back, I actually could have died from the pneumonia/asthma attack I had, but with the meds, I would now never know there was anything 'wrong' with me at all.

catsrus Sun 04-Nov-12 23:14:24

yes - I had this on and off for years, finally went to the doctor and was told "late onset asthma, cough variant" (never heard of it!) the inhaler does the trick. I don't always remember to do the daily one but it's definitely worked - wish I'd gone to the doctors years ago smile

steppemum Sun 04-Nov-12 23:17:29

I had a cough like this for years as a teenager, a new gp finally said it was post nasal drip from catarrh in sinuses. It drove me mad. ds now gets this too. gp gave me a decongestant instead of cough medicine. It finally went, but in the end I had my adenoids out which helped.

with ds I use karvol on his pjs and that stops him coughing in the night

catsrus Sun 04-Nov-12 23:23:13

PS that was the short version of the story - the longer one involves chest xrays, MRI scans and consultants - asthma definitely can manifest as a cough!

LapinDeBois Sun 04-Nov-12 23:34:02

Oh, two other things. One, my doctor explained that everyone has completely different triggers: mine is clearly viral, and other common triggers like animal hair and dust have no effect on me at all. Second, and this may be rubbish, but I wonder whether its possible to have indicators for late onset asthma earlier in life. I wonder this because I always found aerobic type exercise like running very hard, even when I was fairly fit, because I found my breathing hard to regulate. Now that I use the inhaler, I can happily do a full on Zumba class without getting out of breath, even though I'm not very fit at the moment.

bonzo77 Sun 04-Nov-12 23:50:49

Thanks. Pleased to hear firstly that my gp might be right (she is usually pretty switched on), and that the puffers might do the trick.

sashh Mon 05-Nov-12 06:28:13

Surely with asthma you wheeze, not a continual cough. Surely the chest sound indicate asthma?

No and No, well at least not always.

Although a vitalograph will probably show it.

ithaka Mon 05-Nov-12 06:58:36

'Surely with asthma you wheeze, not a continual cough. Surely the chest sound indicate asthma?'

NO! Sorry, I am shouting because I thought that and my daughter nearly died of an asthma attack. She never wheezes, not all asthmatics do. She coughs.

Yes, the doctors can listen to her chest and that indicates if her tubes are spasming.

It sounds like your GP knows what they are doing (unlike my daughter's GP, grrr). I would follow their advice.

bonzo77 Mon 05-Nov-12 15:21:30

Thanks. The cough is awful today, coughing till I'm sick, which I guess that's the result of being so pregnant and baby messing with my stomach. angry

ithaka Tue 06-Nov-12 07:51:58

My daughter will cough till she is sick when she is having an asthma attack, so be careful. It may be worth going back to the doctor to get checked out. Take care.

bonzo77 Tue 06-Nov-12 08:08:31

Thanks ithka. I just started the clenil last night and have a gp appointment in a few weeks so hoping that this and the ventilin keep me stable if not better by then.

catsrus Tue 06-Nov-12 19:07:23

Don't hesitate to use the inhaler until you get your system stable - I used it lots to start with - but now cant remember when I last used it smile

bonzo77 Thu 08-Nov-12 17:32:07

Thanks. I think I need to use the salbutamol more. I had a massive coughing fit driving down the M1 earlier. I was sick everywhere! Luckily I was on my way home from work and it was DH's car with leather seats that wipe off easily. Not funny though.

Cailleach Fri 09-Nov-12 10:29:32

I have rhinitis and cattarh (never can spell it!) and mild asthma, and have an almost constant cough.

It's really annoying, OP and I feel for you.

ClueLessFirstTime Fri 09-Nov-12 10:34:11

it does sound like asthma. can you get a referral to the asthma nurse for tests?
I usually don't wheeze, but cough and feel very out of breath and need to clear my throat a lot.
some people do wheeze but that is not the only indicator.

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