Last updated on 05/05/2021

Do you have an asthma cough?

Asthma cough can be challenging.

It can be embarrassing or awkward to have an ongoing cough, especially amid increased anxiety over health during COVID-19 times.

When we released a blog[1] last year on COVID-19 and asthma coughing, it had a huge response. People with asthma told us about the stigma and social isolation they were feeling about their coughing during the pandemic.

A cough is a way the body attempts to expel irritants in the lungs. But when the cough is due to inflammation of the lungs in asthma, and exposure to triggers, then the cough can continue.

Here is what you need to know about asthma cough.

In asthma, the airways are inflamed and overly responsive to triggers, such as cold and dry air, colds and flu, smoke, dust, and pollens. For some people, the coughing can start after exercise.

The amount and severity of cough can change depending on the weather and the season.

Taking your preventer medication as prescribed, and in line with your written Asthma Action Plan, may improve the cough symptoms by reducing the inflammation in the airways.

We encourage you if you are experiencing any asthma symptoms, to speak with your doctor as it may indicate that you are due for an asthma review.

My child coughs a lot. Could it be asthma?

Cough is quite a common symptom along with wheezing in babies and young children when they have colds and viruses. If your child coughs a lot, it could be worth getting them checked out by a medical professional.

Asthma is more likely be the cause of the cough is dry (without phlegm or mucous) if the cough or wheeze won’t go away or keeps coming back, occurs more at night or early in the morning, they have symptoms after running around, laughing or being in the cold, wheeze without other cold symptoms, and there are other symptoms such as breathlessness, [2]

Monitor when your child has a cough so you can tell your doctor and determine potential triggers.

What is an asthma cough sound?

Most people with asthma have a dry cough, one that does not produce mucous.

This happens when the airways constrict in response to an irritant and is a feature of asthma.

As well as the cough there is often a high-pitched wheeze sound that is also caused by the constricted airway.[3]

Asthma cough at night

If your asthma is not under control, you might have an ongoing cough at night.

Asthma symptoms can be more common at night and during sleep for a number of reasons. These can include coughing in response to mucous from the nose, colder and drier air that affects the airways, less control over inflammation while sleeping, and increased exposure to triggers.[4]

Experiencing an asthma cough at night and using your reliever more than twice a week means your asthma may not be under control and you should see your doctor for an asthma review.

Could my cough be COVID-19?

Cough can be a symptom of asthma, hay fever, cold and flu, or COVID-19.

Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital respiratory clinician Dr. John Blakey told Asthma Australia that people with an asthma cough may have found it challenging (and still could) amid the COVID-19 heightened concern when it comes to displaying respiratory symptoms.

“Under these circumstances, we would encourage people to keep it simple, be transparent about their cough and be willing to say, ‘It’s my normal asthma cough’,” he says.

He says when considering if the symptom could be from COVID-19 think about whether there are other issues such as a sore throat, fatigue, runny nose or congestion, or breathlessness.

A major factor is whether the person has been in contact with a COVID-19 case or a person who has been overseas recently.

He also suggests asking yourself if the cough is more persistent or produces unusual mucous or has worse symptoms in the nose especially with the sense of smell.

Asthma, hayfever or COVID-19

For more information on asthma symptoms,  call 1800 ASTHMA 1800 278 462 and speak to an Asthma Educator.










ENT, echamber, and AirPhysio are campaign partners of Asthma Australia and have not been involved in the development of this webpage.