A Cold or an Asthma Flare... That is the Question

Last updated: April 2021

Asthma Problems #10480853028: When you can’t exactly tell if you’re Real People Sick or not.

On Wednesday, my respite client texted me letting me know the dad was sick, in the event I wanted to reschedule. I super appreciate this about them, because colds + asthma = no fun. However, over Christmas (less than a week ago at the time of writing!), I’d been in cars with people who had colds, and seated next to people who had colds. If I was going to get sick, well, it likely wouldn’t be just from my client’s family.

Cold symptoms vs asthma symptoms

I got home from work on Thursday and less than two hours later, The Cough beyond the usual cough started. Yep, clearly I didn’t pick anything up at work (plus the almost-9-year-old had me playing Nintendo Switch which was fun). Now it's two full days later, and I still can’t tell if I’m actually Real People Sick or not.

My cough has gotten much worse—the worst it’s been in a long time. My sinuses, though? Totally. Freaking. Fine. (Could that be the Singulair? I guess so, but I feel doubtful). Throat? Also 100% normal. I even slept totally fine, except for once when I woke up, and then had a coughing spasm, and then went back to sleep with no real issues.

What gives? Am I sick or not?

With asthma, my action plan is the same whether I’ve got a cold or if I’m just flaring, so it’s not really a mystery in dire need of solving, but… I am a curious sort and I want to know. I feel like I probably do have a cold, however, I’m just so perplexed by the lack of any other symptoms. Although, I am the person who had bronchitis for a week before going to a doctor to be told I had bronchitis, so I am unsure I can be trusted. (I am 98% certain this time I do not have a fever, however.)

It’s just this darn cough, which had my mom offering me pineapple juice for—I told her it wasn’t going to help me, and while it might work for coughing induced by throat irritation, it wasn’t going to help this straight-from-my-lungs cough that I can’t describe all that well, although she said it’s barky. I drank the pineapple juice, though, because obviously, pineapple juice is delicious. It’s just not going to help me like Ventolin and my other bronchodilators are at this point in time.

While my cousin and aunt tried a pineapple juice-based concoction for their colds on Christmas Day, I think I’m going to opt out. After all, that’s not exactly going to get into my lungs, either. Plus, Snopes determined pineapple juice to not actually be 5x more effective than cough syrup.1

I’m not exactly about the natural remedies, anyways. Unless, maybe, they are Sweet Chilli Heat Doritos.

I still don't know if I'm sick

So, the verdict is still out. If I’m just “normal” asthma flaring, I’d hope it would lift in another day or two at most. If it’s a cold, I could have another 5 to 7 to 10 days of this nonsense—and my chest muscles are already feeling it, so good luck to me if that’s the case!

Do you have clues for telling if you’re having an asthma flare or have a cold? What works for you managing a cold with your asthma?

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