At a loss


I have had a persistant cough for well over a year and had 11 chest infections in a year! I was finnaly diagnosied with asthma in Feb this year after many many visits the the doctors, they weren't taking me seriously at all.

Since May I have been off work, I had managed to go back part time and things were going great until the other week, I was abroad on holiday all the dr's advised me to go as it would be good for my 'well being' which it was but I got another infection over there, luckily I had antibiotics which helped I thought I'd got it quick enough but since I returned I have been worse and I'm on more antibiotics and off work again!!! I'm just sick of it all, I seem to get an infection ever 7-9 weeks the past 4 infections have all been in a 'cycle' and before I get one I feel great and my cough goes away. I have been seen by the hosiptal and I'm due there in a few weeks and I'm currently having physio but I feel its not helping at all. Has anyone else found that they keep getting infections and they can't shift them? I just feel its totally ruining my life and I'm sooooo worried that eventually I'll be jobless and lifeless as I am unable to do anything as it takes me 3-4 weeks to get over each infection and even then I'monly about 75% normal.

Sorry for the rant but I am seriously loosing the will to live

7 Replies

  • Hi Christina,

    Welcome to Asthma UK, I'm sorry to hear that you've been diagnosed with asthma, but I hope you find us a good source of information and support. Please do feel free to ask any questions that might occur to you.

    To begin with, one thing that I say to all new board members - this board inevitably attracts a disproportionate number of people with asthma at the severe end of the spectrum. You may read accounts of poor control, multiple medications, frequent hospital admissions and even Intensive Care admissions. Please don't be frightened or put off by this. Experiences like that, whilst unfortunately common amongst our board members, are rare in asthma as a whole. The vast majority of people with asthma - perhaps 95% - can be completely or almost completely controlled, with minimal or no interference with their work or day-to-day life, once the right combination of medication is found. It is highly likely that you will be in this group. It may take a while to find the medication that suits you and get things under control, but the goal of treatment should be to allow you to get back to a normal life.

    It does sound like you have had a really frustrating time recently and that it is interfering with things quite a lot. You don't mention what medication you are on, but as you are fairly recently diagnosed, it may be that there are other medications that can be added in to help things. It's very positive that you are being seen at the hospital - presumably by a respiratory consultant, as well as by a physio - and hopefully, they will be able to suggest any further tests or treatment that you need.

    In terms of the recurrent infections, there are several different reasons for getting repeated chest infections. It may be simply that you have been unlucky and had a 'bad run', and that things will begin to settle as your asthma is brought under control. It's possible that you have picked up a resistant bacteria that isn't completely responding to the usual antibiotics, so that it's being partially treated and then flaring up again - your doctors can test for this by sending a sample of your sputum to the lab and seeing what bacteria grow, if they have not already done this. This also allows them to make sure they prescribe the right antibiotic that works against your particular bug.

    There are lots of other investigations that respiratory consultants may choose to do in people with recurrent chest infections, to rule out any underlying cause. It depends a little on your exact history, whether you've had X ray changes with these infections, and what specific bacteria they've managed to grow from your sputum. A respiratory consultant will look at all these factors and decide what tests are most appropriate for you, if any. Once they have completed all the tests, there are various things that they can do, from physio to help you shift the mucus on your chest and prevent infections developing (which is presumably what you are already having) to regular low dose antibiotics to prevent infections from developing.

    I think the key thing is to be seen by a respiratory consultant so that they can work out what's going on and decide on the best course of action. You say that you are due at the hospital in a few weeks - when you go, you might want to make a list of all the problems and questions that you have, so that you can use the time constructively and get the answers that you need.

    You're definitely not alone with this - there are many of us on the board who are in the same frustrating situation. I get a chest infection approximately every 6 - 8 weeks, and it usually fails to respond to the first course of antibiotics that I take; often the infection will then trigger my asthma which lands me in hospital. In my case, I have another condition called bronchiectasis, which is a form of scarring of the lungs (caused in my case by severe pneumonia and being on a ventilator for a long period after an asthma attack - an extreme situation which is very rare). Bronchiectasis is one of the things that can cause recurrent infections, and it's manageable with regular physio and medication. In my case, I take an antibiotic called azithromycin three times a week, which has been useful in reducing the frequency of the infections. It may well be that there is a simple solution of this sort for you, so don't give up hope.

    I know it's frustrating, and it's difficult to believe that things will get any better, but they will improve. As I've said, the vast majority of people with asthma do get control, and even those who don't get complete control find that their symptoms can be very much improved.

    Take care, and let us know how you get on,

    Em H

  • Hey

    Thanks for your help and reassurance!!

    I'm currently on symbicort, started on blue and brown inhaler then symbicort then when I went to the consultant she but me back on blue and brown inhaler and changed me again to symbicort the July! I prefer symbicort I think it is the best for me! I generally don't get a tight chest or wheeze just cough! I'm also on singulair, which I have been on for a about 2 years each summer as it was first thought I had seasonal asthma with my hayfever as I get it bad, but as I have been on steroids 3 times between mid Feb-mid April this year its been great this year!

    I'm just sick of all the infections as I am still being phased back to full time work as I have been off for so long I'm due back at occ health on Tuesday and there is no way I could work a full week yet, its really getting me down as each infection seems to floor me for a week or so.

    I had a chest x ray in january and nothing was shown I've also been seen by ear nose and throat consultant who thought it was acid reflux but I don't get indegestion or heartburn or always cough at night or morning I have no set times I cough its strange!

    I'm back at the consultant in a few weeks and I'm going to request a lung function test as I feel my lungs are crap! I have been trying to go swimming but I can't do very much and can't when my cough is about, I used to swim 3 miles a week and can't swim slow but have been swimming the slowest I can!

    The antibiotics I'm on just now for my infection are distaclor mr this will be my 4th time on them I can't take amoxocillin anymore as it doesn't work.

    Sorry for the moan and rant I just feel its runining my life and if this is the way my life is to be forever I don't really want it to be honest as I get well then it hits me

    I have just been speaking to HR about this situation at work and they like me (I think this too but try not to!) that I may have to reduce my hours for a fixed 6 month period to try and get my health back to normal, which is fine but I can't seriously afford to decrease my hours, this is seriously ruining my life I can't stand it any more. Finished antibiotics last night and I've been hot, headachey and coughing all day today and I'm shattered I'm SICK!!!

    Do you think natural therapy medicine may work?

  • Hi EmilyH Welcome back to the boards. I hope you are fully recovered now!! Ive been missing all your replies to other peoples asthma problems. You certainly are very knowledgeable(sp). Hugs from Caithness.

  • I'm sure your pyhsio has told you all of this... but...

    When I went to see mine she told me to cut out tea/coffee/fizzy drinks etc, and drink at least 2 litres of water everyday. It breaks the mucus down and so you can get it out, therefore leaving your airways a little clearer! I thought it was lies, but it worked just after a week! I don't know if you have already tried it though, but it might just help a little.

    Obivously a good diet.. (I know, cakes are too tempting.. nothing wrong with a treat here and there!), and walking a little does help. Even if you get out of breath, it exercises your lungs. No dairy, or least cut it down (skimmed milk etc) is good.. However you probably know all this!!

    11 in a year must have been horrible. I hope you start to feel better soon. I've been off work since January and have been on steriods non stop. It's not great, but you have just got to keep thinking that you will get there one day. It's hard not to get depressed about it.. I've spent many a day crying about it all! But what can you do? You try everything and nothing works. There is hope and a light at the end of the tunnel I promise!

    Being on so many antibiotics is not good for you... It will come to a point where they will stop working. My doctor hardly ever gives them to me now, just lets me suffer! Sounds harsh, but I actually manage to get better myself.

    I know its old news but.... 5 fruit and veg, and a multivitamin really does work.. loads of water too. Hope i've helped in some way.... symbicort is brilliant!

  • Hey, I have had a persistant cough for 18 months now and lots of infections, roughly one every four weeks, i have just lost my second job due to not being able to work, i only managed 3 weeks in one job and 7 days in another so i know how frustrating it is! The doctors at the hospital are confused with what is happening but i am back in two weeks. I guess we can keep messaging each other as i understand what you are going through too. I am fed up of spending more time at the doctors than anywhere else in a week. I am managing to control things from home with the help of my portable neb and the new GP is fantasitc very understanding and helpful and sees me when ever i need to see them.

    keep fighting you will get there in the end!

  • An Update...................


    Well I'm still ill... my immune system is very low so had boosters etc but went to a homopathic person last week and he has diagnoised me with post viral chronic fatigue and also that I've never had an infection its just been a bad virus that keeps coming back and the cough is a sign of my body trying to fight it and I'm not to take antibiotics again unless its life or death as I've had too many and my system is worn out.

    So resting lots but not going too well worn out all the time.

    I just want a life back :o(

  • Cough

    Hate to say it but I,ve had cough for 23years - about. That said it was just an embarassment for a lot of the time and Icould cope although the ""cough till you vomit"" times were trying - mind you it was good for a seat on the tube!

    The doctors did not take it seriously until one was exposed to one of my attacks. Prednisolone helped enormously. The annoying thing was it was not even a bad attack as far as I was concerned. I often wonder if a short course early on would have fixed it.

    You can have reflux without any obvious symptoms. I had one of those tests where you swallow a tube to confirm it. And a second one some years later. Same result!

    If you cough a lot I think your lungs /ribs get quite strong so unless the tests are done when you are very bad they may not show much - besides unless I'm having a very good patch they make me cough.

    For colds I take a short course of zinc and vitamin C. ZincoVite-C works best if I actually have a cold. A couple of Brazil nuts a day for a couple of weeks or so might help as well. They contain an element which is lacking in most European food. I do not recommend tablets of said element. Plenty of fruit and veg also help.

    I have been much better on Symbicort although I 'm still on qite a lot of steroids. I had got down to only 1mg too.

    I'm a little alarmed at the no antibiotics edict. I usually find the worst symptoms are relieved once the correct antibiotic is found. Having a full blown asthma attack is alarming and that was in the doctor's waiting room so I knew help was at hand. That is the only time I needed a nebuliser. Mind you it worked a treat!

    Good Luck.

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