what to do if a cold makes asthma worse

Start With Cold and Flu Prevention

It’s important for people with asthma to try to prevent catching a cold or the flu in the first place. “If you have asthma, it does not mean you are more likely to get colds and flu, but you want to try hard to prevent them because they can trigger an asthma attack,” says Dr. Neumeyer. “Number one on your list is to get your flu shot every year. The best time to get your flu vaccine is in early fall — say September or October — before flu season starts."

Though that may sound obvious, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only one-third of adults with asthma get their flu vaccine every year. Keep in mind that while there is also a flu vaccine in nasal-spray form, it’s not recommended for people with asthma because there is some evidence that it can trigger an asthma attack, so it’s best to opt for the traditional shot.

To avoid getting sick, follow simple precautions such as avoiding crowded places, washing your hands frequently, and avoiding people you know who have a cold. “If possible, also try to avoid traveling in airplanes during the cold and flu season,” advises Neumeyer.

Use your peak flow meter more often. Your peak flow meter measures how well your asthma is controlled. Make sure you know how to use it.
Keep track of symptoms like wheezing, cough, and chest tightness. You may need to bump up your controller medications or start using your rescue medications.

Give it a day to see how you feel. Call your doctor in 24 hours if symptoms are getting worse, interfering with daily activities, or waking you up at night.
Look out for asthma red flags. Call your doctor right away if your medications are not helping or your peak flow drops below 50 percent of your personal best.
Take good care of yourself. Stay home, rest, drink plenty of fluids, and keep your nasal secretions moist with an over-the-counter saline nasal spray. Ask your doctor about other over-the-counter medications that may help such as decongestants, analgesics, and expectorants