Question: I have asthma, and find it particularly difficult first thing in the morning when it’s winter. I tend to cough a lot and it’s quite uncontrollable – to the extent where I cannot take my reliever inhaler to correct the problem. I get in to a disturbing cycle of coughing / not being able to inhale the medication, and it really upsets me. How do I combat this?


First and foremost, try drinking a warm fluid as soon as possible on cold winter mornings. Tea or coffee are ideal; if you have to make these yourself, cover your mouth with a cloth while you do so and try to take shallow breaths. Prepare the drink so you can drink it quickly – so not boiling, but definitely warm.

Secondly, the continual cycle of coughing that is so bad you cannot get a breath to take your inhalers is not uncommon – though it is unpleasant. The best way to combat this is through a device that operates between your inhaler and your mouth. These devices have various names, including air chambers, inhaler chambers and inhaler assistants. The basic premise is you fit your inhaler to a circular chamber and expel the medication through one “puff” in to the chamber. You then inhale the air from the chamber.

The reason this works is it takes away the immediacy of needing to inhale right then and there if you place the inhaler directly in your mouth. Being able to take quick bursts of the medication from the chamber should alleviate the problem. Good luck!

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