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I've been suffering from these cyclical cold symptoms since August. I'm 27 and am an expat in Beijing. I've not been to see an international doctor because they are too expensive, so I go to an international wing of my local hospital - however, I feel like I've been misdiagnosed.

In August I came down with an awful cold, which then turned into a chesty cough and then into a tickly cough that lasted for a long time and made me wheeze. Once I was recovered, I started getting an itchy nose and was sneezing constantly, I would sneeze and sneeze and then would come down with a sore throat and feel very run down. Then the next day I would be fine for a few days. Then it would start all over again. I went to the doctors, they decided it was probably an allergy. I wasn't really convinced as I have hayfever and it feels different to when I have a cold. My summer hayfever isn't cyclical and the mucus doesn't get thick.

The doctor gave me antihistamines. I started taking them, they did nothing, the sneezing got worse and turned into an awful cold that practically floored me. Again the cold went onto my chest and became a chesty cough, and then a tickly cough. The sneezing and itchiness in my nose went. I still have a tickly cough, which is worse at night. When I lie down my throat tickles and I cough to relieve it. After coughing for a while, phlegm builds up in my throat and obstructs my airways so I wheeze, unless I cough it out the way. It doesn't feel like asthma as my chest isn't tight. I can breathe deeply, but each deep breath tickles my throat and makes me cough, and occasionally wheeze.
Occasionally the cough gets chesty and I hawk up a lump of white phlegm (nice).

I returned to the doctors to tell her that my nose was ok again, but I had a tickly, occasionally chesty cough that made me wheeze. She listened to my lungs for aaaages. I asked her if anything sounded abnormal, but she just shrugged (trust me, she was a terrible GP). However, she insisted it must be an allergy or asthma and has now given me asthma medication. I asked to explain why she thought it was asthma. I asked again if my lungs sounded bad and explained that I run 5km+ a few times a week - she just said, 'sometimes asthma just causes a cough, it not serious, just take the asthma medication I think and it will be ok. If not come back and we'll give you stronger asthma medication or maybe something for the allergy.'
So yeah. I can't go back. I definitely don't trust her potty theory.

I'm not asthmatic. I'm very athletic and actually feel very fit right now. When I run on the treadmill (9.5km/hour for 45 mins), I feel fine. There is no wheezing or coughing before or after. If anything, it clears me out for the rest of the day.

Anyway. It's been 3 weeks since my cold finished and I've been itchy nose free since then, but I'm about to start the cycle again - I'm sneezing and my nose is itchy, there's almost a burning feeling, I'm swallowing lots of phlegm and the phlegm in my throat is getting sticky. I'm at a loss.

If I was in the UK, I'd go to the doctors as much as I needed because it's free, but here I'm having to fork out money each time. The main factor in all this is that I live in Beijing, an incredibly polluted place and there is A LOT of construction work going on. There are no rules or regulations, so there is dirt and general c**p everywhere, and it gets blown around when the wind blows. I don't know if I have a sinus infection - the phlegm is white, occasionally yellow, but generally white and sticky. The doctor ruled out bronchitis, which was why she settled on asthma or an allergy. I'm wondering if it is post nasal drip? I just want some advice on what to do!

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If bronchitis was ruled out, than probably sinus or similar infection was too. They would know if it was an infection from a basic blood test, assuming that they did any blood test at all. What you describe – coughing, wheezing, among others – are usual signs for asthma. I mean, it’s understandable that you think that you’re not asthmatic, but that is not a characteristic you choose to have. There are allergy induced asthmas, which are one of the more common ones, with worsening of their symptoms induced by allergens like dust, smoke, pollen or gasses. It isn’t a wild guess what your doctor said. Give that treatment a chance when you paid for it. And the nose problems sound to me like something that definitely is caused by constant irritation, probably from the pollution. Maybe to try using air purifiers and/or humidifiers at least when you sleep.
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They did not do a blood test.
I did use antihistamines for a while, but found they didn't work. It got worse and worse, until I developed a proper cold. Once the cold was finished, I had 3 weeks of no symptoms. I also took a break outside China and went to Thailand. I had the same symptoms. Every few days I felt like I was coming down with a cold and felt run down, sore throat etc. I would have sneezing fits too. I know with allergies that mucus doesn't get sticky or change colour, but in this cycle, it always ends up yellow.

I do have a humidifier in my room because Beijing is so dry.

I'm using the asthma medicine now, but I still feel the same. The wheezing differs from what my asthmatic sister feels. I can actually take deep breaths. It's not a constant wheeze. I wheeze a bit when I inhale, and then sometimes a bit on exhale and it's not with every breath. It doesn't feel like my chest or airways are tight. I can take deep breaths in and out, but sometimes taking a deep breath tickles and makes me cough. It happens mostly at night, but has happened in the day.

It's all linked. I get a cold, sore throat, headache, it goes onto my chest, becomes a tickly, chesty cough. Cold finishes, cough stays, nose no longer irritated - 2-3 weeks later, I start sneezing and develop a cold and it starts all over again.

I have a grass pollen allergy (May - June) and I never get like this.
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Sounds like post nasal drip to me, could be caused with something you are eating, do you eat bananas, they make mucus.
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But how do they know then that it’s not some kind of an infection like bronhitis…surely not by listening your lungs alone? At first I figured they ruled it out based on something. I have throat infection for over a year now that comes back every few months, always the same – fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose, then I take antibiotics, it goes away for the next month, doctors say no point in removing tonsils, so basically no solution except vitamins for immune system. I think that it’s more probable that you sinuses – as you figured out yourself – are more probable cause. But that means you need them to do the test for bacteria, and I know money. Do you have fever, I forgot to ask?
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Fever. Yes. Each time this cold hits, it's worse. I spent yesterday in bed, shivering, muscle aches and a fever - ie flu. The tickly, chesty cough is still here. I'm saving up to go see an international doc at one of the international hospitals for if it doesn't go away. My main problem here is having to speak have in Chinese and half in English when I see the doctors. I don't think I can communicate properly.

I think it's my sinuses - it's so polluted here and many expats suffer from sinus related problems.
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Fever means infection, no doubt about that. Looks like it’s the case as is with my throat – immune system gets weak for a minute, infection takes over, I cure it and it all happens again. Try to help yourself until you manage to go and do the tests to find out what type of bacteria is the cause – try some natural antibiotics like garlic and stick with the vitamins.
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I'm a healthy 47 year old male. Never sick. But am suddenly suffering through what you described. Did you ever find the cause? Hoping you are well, D
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I´m a healthy 55 year old man. I also excersise a lot (I swim 2 K daily). Where I live in Mexico we have several people suffering exactly what is described. It definetly seems to be infective because it was transmited from one individual to another in the office. We all have periods where we seem to be cured but afetrwards it starts again.
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Definitely sounds like an air quality reaction. You should use an air purifiers inside, especially when you're sleeping, and perhaps a mask outside if the air quality is so poor. Especially if you are walking or exercising in the open.
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