Remember, remember your old brown inhaler

Coughs, colds and sore throats are usually a nuisance, one from which the majority of people make a complete recovery. However, people who suffer from asthma often find that their symptoms are significantly aggravated by even a mild viral infection, causing increased wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing bouts. Sometimes a simple cold can trigger an acute, potentially serious asthma attack. Hereís how to prevent that from happening.

Most people who are on regular inhaler therapy for their asthma will have a blue (reliever) inhaler and a brown (preventer) inhaler. The blue inhaler makes you feel instantly better as it opens up the airways, relieving the cough, wheeze and shortness of breath. The brown (preventer) inhaler acts as an anti-inflammatory agent on the lining of the airways, preventing swelling and the development of excess mucus, which leads to the tightening of the airways.

If you use a reliever (blue) inhaler more than three times a week you should see the nurse to discuss whether or not a preventer (brown) inhaler may be necessary to control your symptoms and make you feel better.

If that is the case, please remember to double the dose of your brown inhaler if you develop signs of a cold/cough/sore throat. Any viral infection affecting the upper airways can cause a worsening of asthma, sometimes enough to trigger a severe asthma attack.

If you are someone who just needs a blue (reliever) inhaler less than three times per week, you may find that your symptoms worsen when you have a cold and that you need to use your inhaler more often.

Please see the nurse straightaway if your inhalers arenít working and you are coughing, feeling wheezy, short of breath and waking up at night, tightchested and coughing. These are all indications that your asthma is not controlled and you might be heading for an acute asthma attack.

Further information

This article published on
01 March 2005

Next review date 3/1/2013



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