Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder Community
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Avatar universal

How does prednisone work to relieve cough from asthma?

I have asthma and have had a chronic dry cough since last March.  My pulmonary doctor recently increased my dosage of Advair from 100/50 to 250/50 and it has not helped.  So I called him and he put me on prednisone 5mg 4x per day until I feel better and then I can decrease by one pill every three days.  

Today is my 4th day and I still can't stop coughing.........I'm so sore.  I'm wondering when and how it will work.  My chest xray is okay.  My brother has severe asthma and he says that the prednisore will work but it does have some nasty side effects.  

I welcome all comments and information...........I  have actually cracked a bone from coughing........I NEED to stop!
19 Responses
Avatar universal
You are not alone.  I have ashma also and this year has been very rough on me.  I've just completed a week on Prednisone and Zithromax.  My coughing cleared up for a couple of days but returned.  I can't sleep or go any where because it is embarrassing. I also had chest xrays that turned out negative.  I go this week and my doctor is going to do allergy test on me to see if something I'm around at home or at work is causing the problem.  If you get a relief from something please let me know.  I just want to sleep a full night without choking and enjoy an evening out without people looking at me as if I was contacious.
Avatar universal
I understand how you feel.  My primary care doc finally referred me to a pulmanary doc after I coughed so hard I actually cracked a bone in my spine. OUCH!  I've been coughing since March.  So the pulmonary doc increased my dosage of Advair from 100/50 to 250/50 and gave me Singulair, and Xopenex in my nebulizer.  Nothing made any difference.......still coughing like crazy...........so I called and asked for cough syrup and that's when he perscribed the prednisone to reduce the imflammation.  I've been on that now for 5 days but still coughing.  

My brother also has very severe asthma and he says that the doc needs to find out WHY I have the asthma in the first place.  Makes sense..........so I guess I should see an allergist also.    I'm so exhausted from coughing, I don't have the energy to even go to another doctor.  I'm just wondering when and if the prednisone is going to kick in.  I'm supposed to take 4 pills per day until I feel better and reduce by one pill every 3 days after that.

I hope you get some relief...........you are not alone............this is not fun, is it?
take care
Avatar universal
I just spent 8 days and 7 nights in the hospital because I ignored a cough for the last 9 months after spend the prior 14 months off and on with 9 different antibiotic treatments. All my x-rays showed up negative for pnemonia and other major problems. I had been on Advair 250/50 and Alegra D 24 for asthma and allergies for over a year. I also have RA and have been on medications that have weakened my immune system.

It was only after I pleaded with my doctor to culture the sputum that they finally found I had a grahm negative infection of pseudomonus ariginousa as well as positive for aspergilous.

While I was in the hospital they repeated the x-ray and the radiologist didn't see anything striking but the pulminary doc and the admitting doc did see lower lobe problems, then had a CT scan -  BIG difference. CT scan showed damage to both lower lobes and middle right lobe due to cronic brochiechitasis and the infection.

PLEASE go and have a CT scan and a culture if you seriously believe there is something wrong............. now i have to live with permanent lung damage and a chronic condition because I settled for less because I believed the initial x-ray tests and blood work. If you have a chronic condition please go a step further in the testing to a CT scan as most early damage does NOT show onan x-ray and if your immune systemm is compromised by steroids and other drugs they won't believe you have an infection either because of the "good, normal" looking CBC etc..

CT scan and cutures  even if you have to pay for them yourself could save a lot in the long run.............. good luck  to all.
Avatar universal
Thank you for the information!  I'm so sorry you have such a serious condition.........but happy to find out that you finally found out what is wrong............I hate the way doctors just dismiss you and send you home with medicines that don't work.  It's like trial and error...........I feel like there is something wrong that's not showing up on xrays..........and I think i will take your advice and ask for a CT scan..........I'm still coughing like  crazy and can barely speak.  I don't have enough breath to speak properly.

I've never smoked...........but my mother, father & one brother died of lung cancer.......my one surviving  brother has very serious asthma and they were all smokers.........so lungs seem to be the weak spot in my family.  I'm probably a victim of their second hand smoke.  I need to know what's going on..........I feel like I'm dieing sometimes.
thanks again for your advice..........and I wish you all the best.
652649 tn?1224278521
I now have ending stage copd,,,steroids  was what I had to take due to I caught hooping cough (which is what it sounds like)...they treated me with a cough suppressant syrup..I didn't have allergy endued Asama as they thought and ended in the hosp on 140ml of steroids...the syrup froze 3/4 of my lungs...so I am on oxygen for 24/7 for 2 yrs now...they said I either take the steroids or I die...so I took them and they said I would never get off them...well after 2 yrs...all my organs are now effected and I put on over 100lb in 8 mo. time and now I am too fatigue now to get around with the extra weight I can't loose and  now I have congestive heard failure, osteoporosis, with 7 vertebrates pinching into spinal cord, gallbladder needs to be removed, thyroid inactive,diabetes, pinched nerves in legs and arms, RLS,,...so now I take med's for all these thing that steroid caused and no surgon will operate on me...but I got off the steroids finally...and now I just got out of hosp for eschemic  colitis (heart don't pump enough blood tho the colon)...very massive and it either has to rejuvenate it self or have life or death surgery due to the high risk of lungs coming off ventilator...which is how copd with steroids works is you don't die of the lung problems... but which organ is going to shut down first,,,so my recommendations are if at all possible..don't take the steroids and have them check for hooping cough
lots of luck
damn !!! they just prescribed jy 3rd WEEK dose of steroids !! i am NOT taking them.... what is going on in this world that they can't stop the ******* common cough?
Avatar universal
WOW..........you poor thing...........you certainly have had a tough time..........and it scares me to death!  What exactly is hooping cough? Is that an infection in the lungs?
Are you a smoker..........or did you ever smoke?  I know that the prednisone is risky and I have been on it for 10 days now with no measurable relief..........so I think we need to find out why I'm coughing so much.  It's a dry cough.......I'm not coughing anything up but it sounds awful...........did you cough anything up?

Hang in there and I will keep you in my prayers...........there is always hope.

sending you love, light & prayers
Avatar universal
You didn't say if the cough you have is a tickly cough at the back of your throat, if it is try Benylin tickly cough syrup. It really helps, it also opens up the bronchi making it easier to breathe.
If you feel like your lungs are full but you are not able to move any mucus then try Bells cough syrup. It's absolutely brilliant but you can't get it everywhere.
Do you do any exercises for your breathing? Is there anyone who can do the "drums" for you? You know when they tip you up so that your head is facing down when you are lying on your tummy and someone literally bangs on your chest, gently mind. It helps loosen anything in your lungs.
I know you will be too sore at the moment but if you can ever get that cough under control it will be easier for you in the long run. Prednisolone works by stopping certain chemicals in the body that cause inflammation and so reduces the inflammation, or it should. It sounds as if it isn't working for you.
If you can try breathing in deeply and then breathe out as much as you can while holding your sides to squeeze out as much CO2  as you can. This should help with your exchange of gases.
I hope you can get some relief from this coughing soon.
Avatar universal
Hi Shielah

I''ve started to taper my dosage of prednisone down so that I can get off it........it really has not helped much and it is making me so shaking and anxious.  Thanks for explaining how it is supposed to work. I think the side effects, at least for me, are not good.  It hurts my stomach too, even though I take it with food.   I'm still coughing and I lose my voice because I don't have enough air to speak properly.

I used to buy Benylin in Canada.......I don't think they sell it here in Florida.  I am going to ask my brother to send me some from Canada........I'm sure it would help.  It sure would be nice to stop coughing and stop hurting.  I might ask my husband to try to do some percussion on me.......but he's so strong.........he doens't know his own strength, I'm afraid he would hurt me without intending to.  I have fibromyalgia and I'm so sore.

thanks again for your help
Avatar universal
Woops, almost forgot............it's a dry, hacking cough that I have...........I don't cough anything up.........I don't believe there is any infection..........I guess you could call it itchy...........but more hacking.

thanks again
Avatar universal
pednisone is synthetic cortisol hormone naturally produced by our adrenal glands , a powerful anti inflamatory , it works by reducing swelling . I recommend reading the book "adrenal fatigue - the 21st century health syndrome" , the doc says all allergies , frequent respiratory tract infections and asthma have an underlying  cause that is adrenal fatigue..

Avatar universal
Pls get this herbal formula called BREATHE EC


It is respected in natural medicine field in India as a strong anti asthma / allergy , contains some mild peppers , etc

For immune system take transfer factor advanced plus capsules , it's a breakthrough , educates your immune system . Do a google search . I have heard many good things about it . Taking long doses of antibiotics will kill the good flora in your intestines and promote candida yeast overgrowth which further makes the problem worse . I suggest taking natural supplements like omega 3 fatty acids , fish oil , vitamin c , probiotic capsules - all these have anti inflamatory effects .

Below is how to do yogic breathing exercises called pranayama . Supposed to cure allergies and other health problems . In the book "Breathing free - the revolutionary 5 day program" author Teresa Hale states that carbon dioxide is not a waste gas after all and plays imporant role in over 100,000 enzyme pathways . She recommends shallow breathing when having asthma attacks to balance CO2 levels . I think breathing exercises worik in the same way .

Anulom Vilom –
Close your right nostril with thumb and deep breath-in through left nostril
then – close left nostril with two fingers and breath-out through right nostril
then -keeping the left nostril closed deep breath-in through right nostril
then - close your right nostril with thumb and breath-out through left nostril.
This is one cycle of anulom vilom.
Repeat this cycle for 20 to 30 minutes twice a day(maximum 60 minutes in one day).
You can do this before breakfast/lunch/dinner or before bedtime or in bed.Remember to take deep long breaths into the lungs.You can do this while sitting on floor or chair or lying in bed.

Kapalbhati -(Do it before eating) Push air forcefully out through the nose about once per second. Stomach will itself go in(contract in). The breathing in(through the nose) will happen automatically. Establish a rhythm and do for 20 to 30 minutes twice a day.(Max 60 min/day) Not for pregnant women. Seriously ill people do it gently.
Avatar universal

story of one man , how he cured his adult onset asthma with azithromycin , research on asthma may be caused by a bacteria ...
Avatar universal
I am a seriously bad asthmatic for 30 years now. Predisone is great. But use only for short time. Get an IgG and EgG blood test done quick. (not just the lame skin scratch test) It will tell you exactly what you are allergic to that is causing  lung inflammation. Capsasium & chilli peppers, paprika are serious known triggers. Eliminate them. Trust me, I suffered too long before I found all this out.
Avatar universal
reading these has given me much insight....the coughing, asthma, prednisone, inhalers, allergies. - this is all happening to my 4 year old!!!  this is her 3rd break through coughing fit....1st time put on proair inhaler & 4mg of singular, 2nd time put on flovent inhaler & otc allegra & now she's on prednisone for the next 9 days.  i just made a promise to myself that if she has another break through coughing fit i will demanding the cultures & the ct scan...thanks for all your help!!!
Avatar universal
well my first recomendation to you would be  sto STOP taking prednisone it could leave you with  permanent adrenal problems or even addison's desease if you are sensitive the drug the problem is you never know wether you will be or not ,  i suppose you had no ill effect from prednisone so that is good ,you know i had the same problem with my cough that just wouldn't go away until a lady doctor discovered i had 'gerd' (acid reflux desease) it's very common but all the other doctors did not diagnose me correctly ,she put me on 'pantoprazole' 40mg. it took 2 weeks for my cough to be completely gone but it was heaven sent ...hope this helps
Avatar universal
I can relate to not sleeping at night or being out in public with a continuous cough.  My problem began with going to an Allergy specialist.  I  no problem eating anything except store bought bread about five years ago. I only went to get allergy test and the Dr. hit me with breathing treatment and epinephrine because I had oxygen level of 93.  Sent me home with Singulair and Symbicort.  I took both for 30 days then got chest pains and had to stop cold turkey.  I did not realize the serious nature of stopping steroids without weaning yourself away from them.  Had total shut down in my breathing abilities.  Had ProAir on hand and had to take it every three hours for four days to to feel I was able to breath at all.  I started researching and I found that Symbicort can cause Adrenal failure and Immunosuppression.  You wouldn't think possible using medications for 30 days.  I began with having food intolerance to most everything.  I found I could no longer tolerate preservatives, food colorings, the list goes on.  I cough constantly.  Major mucus problems.  Really felt I came close to death.  After each meal, about two hours later I would swell up, then get asthma.  Asthma, which I never had in my life was now part of my everyday life.  Soon turned into upper respiratory infections.  I lost 20 lbs. because I couldn't find anything to eat that wouldn't cause asthma.  I found I could eat some Organic foods.  Mostly vegetables and fruit. I have been very ill for a very long time.  I found some hope today when I found that the medications probably created this horrific experience and possibly after a year it might level out some. I am using Prednisone in small doses to help when I have exasperation from the asthma. Sometimes small doses of Cyprol.    I am trying to use Tumeric, Fish oil, D3, Vitamin E. Vitamin C. to hopefully get away from Pro Air and Prednisone.  Hasn't happened yet.  I picked up Licorice Root today, as I heard it might make some difference.  This seems to be a good site to realize these steroid sprays are only making people sicker.  I realize that Prednisone is also a corticosteroid, but can't seem to stay completely away from it.  I have recently sent for a hormone test to see if my cortisol levels are low which is sometimes caused by Adrenal suppression.  Cortisol also promotes proper function of immune system.  I so wish to find a magical alternative solution.  I will never take steroid sprays again.  I will die naturally first.  
Avatar universal
Story sounds just like mine. I am taking the same meds but find no relief from this coughing.  I was finally lulled to sleep at 5am by the sound of my nebulizer but woke at 730 due to coughing.  Allergies are very bad this year and I can't find relief.  I am on week 4 of this.
Avatar universal
This makes the most sense so far.  Thank you- For the first time in many years, I feel like everything just fit together in this puzzle.  
Avatar universal
Hi ive just started my course of prednisone. The dr has prescribed me 30 mg for 3 days for bronchitis. Ive had a cough for 7 weeks now and hasnt shifted. Last night i felt able to breath but my throat is very sore this morning. I was just wondering whether id be ok to continue use and will i have severe sides effects from not taking the medicine after 3 days dose?.
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