Asthma, Coughs and Colds: Information for Parents and Carers

This following guide is provided by The Asthma Foundation. The common cold, caused by an upper respiratory tract infection, is one of the most common illnesses for children and adults in Australia. Colds are more common in winter months as people spend more time indoors, in close contact, and can be more likely to pass on viruses that cause the common cold.
Colds can be a trigger for asthma, and asthma management can become more difficult for children and teenagers attending school if they have a cough or a cold.
Ensure your child reduces the risk of passing on coughs and colds by avoiding coughing or sneezing on, or near other people and that they wash their hands appropriately after blowing their nose or handling used tissues. Coughing or sneezing onto the inside of their elbow instead of their hands can also prevent the transmission of infections.
If your child is unwell, it is recommended that they stay home and rest to reduce the chance of spreading infections and to give them a better chance to recover quickly.
While there is no known cure for the common cold, symptoms such as headache, cough and runny nose can be managed, and children with asthma are advised to see their doctor before using any medication, or herbal and natural remedies, as these may react with their asthma medications. Many cold and flu medications available over the counter are not suitable for children and teenagers, and some medications may also trigger asthma symptoms, it is best to avoid these unless recommended by your doctor.
People with asthma should avoid the following medications if possible:

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen/Naproxen (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications)
  • Beta blockers tablets and eye drops (used for high blood pressure and glaucoma)
  • ACE inhibitors (used to control blood pressure)

Saline drops and nasal sprays may help relieve blocked sinuses, and gargling with salty water may help relieve a sore throat. If cold symptoms become more severe, parents and carers are encouraged to consult their doctor as soon as possible for advice.Nasal sprays should not be shared between people as this may transmit infections and viruses.It is also highly recommended that in the lead-up to winter, people with asthma ask make use of influenza (flu shot)vaccinations.
For more information on the common cold, medications and references used in this article please see the Better Health Channel(State Government of Victoria) – www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au and the NPS website – www.nps.org.au.
For further information, please contact the Asthma Foundation of Victoria on 1800 645 130 or email schools@asthma.org.au