Asthma and Infections: Hi My... - Asthma UK communi...

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Asthma and Infections



My girlfriend has asthma she is 27 and was diagnosed with asthma after a chest infection, is this common?

also every so often she has trouble with her breathing and may need to take steroids to help she invariably gets chest infections aswell which seem to accompany the bad breathing. i want to know how common it is to have so many chest infections and is this down to the inhaled steroids ? she also takes singulair (i thionk thats what it is called) could this be the reason for the numerous infections. any info would be a great help,

many thanks

6 Replies

Many asthmatics get a chest infection whenever they have a cold or similar virus. Or, it may just go straight for her chest & miss out the upper respiratory tract altogether. Then the infection causes her airways to get more inflamed, and she needs a short course of steroids to get on top of it.

That's all fairly standard but it depends how many infections she gets? A couple a year is one thing, but if she's getting say 4-6 then the risk is this may eventually cause some damage to her lungs.

When she had the first infection, how poorly was she, and did it get treated promptly and thoroughly, or was she ill for some time?

Also, does her gp ever take sputum samples to check which bugs she gets? If she is frequently ill, I think she should ask for referral to a consultant for proper investigation and diagnosis. It's possible she hasn't got asthma at all - there are other lung conditions which cause repeated chest infections which could then be ruled out and a proper treatment regime initiated to keep her well.

hope this helps a bit - repeated infections are very wearing so get her to take action & not be fobbed off



Thanks for your reply.

When she was ill initially she left it untill it got so bad that she had to spend 4 days in hospital. she has been to a specialist and they have taken samples etc and done some tests so it looks as though it is asthma. But she does seem to get a lot of chest infections (this is what the doc says they are) I'm not sure if they are or if it is just her asthma playing up though. I was wondering if it could be any of the medication she is taking (the inhaled steroids or singulair tabs). she does seem to have a lot of chest infections though which is worrying me



I was diagnosed in the same way and now almost every time I get a cold I get a chest infection. the last one was milder as I am now on Seretide preventer which seems to be doing its job but the doc doesn't want to leave me on it too long. I have also now got infective conjuntivitis, which I think is the cold bug hanging around for a bit and now manifesting itself though a swollen lymph node and very bad itchy and sticky eyes - its not serious just uncomfortable and inconvenient when I have to unstick my eyes in the morning before I can see! So unfortunately chest and other infections are kind of inevitable with asthma, maybe because when fighting a cold your resistance is low anyway. I get very run down and tired much of the time which isn't really improving with the medication. Hoping you both manage to get something sorted to keep the asthma better controlled - it takes a bit of time to settle on a medication regime that suits each individual.



Dear GUY12

I too was diagnosed the same way, and have continuous chest infections, eventually found out i had further complications as Polly mentioned in her response can happen. Asthma can sometime be just the beginning of a diagnosis.

Its good she has a consultant working with her, and finding the right medication to control the asthma can take time, like KEB said in her answer, for me it has taken two years of trial and error. I am now on continuous low dose antibiotics which has made a huge difference but not something i would recommend thinking about as being helpful until all avenues have been explored.

It would be most unlikely her medication is causing her to be ill, more likely that she is not on the right/possibly enough medication and needs to be reviewed by her consultant. You don't say how much steroid she takes or which one, there are so many different combinations, she may find better control by changing her meds, but that's a conversation for her and the consultant to decide.

I think its great by the way that your so understanding of her illness and so supportive.


It won't be the medication, steroids or singulair, causing her to have infections. If she had a really bad one to start with requiring hosp admission (after no previous chest problems) it's probably left her with a susceptibility to infection. Has she had a CT scan and if so did it reveal any lung damage?

If she has such frequent infections, perhaps the consultant could ask her gp to send a sputum spec off to the lab each time, to check which bugs she's growing? Maybe the antibiotics she is given each time aren't the right ones. Or she should suggest this to the gp herself.

Many people with lung conditions causing repeated infection have a system set up with the gp so they have (a) a microbiology form &sputum pot to get a specimen into the local hosp lab & identify the bug (b) a course of broad spectrum antibiotics in reserve to start taking immediately the signs of an infection starts - eg if at the weekend (c) an asthma management plan to ameliorate the increased symptoms (d) see gp asap

I think a young woman like this with no previous lung problems should be getting every investigation going, firstly to establish the exact diagnosis & then to plan her treatment to limit these infections. Maybe also some immunology tests should be considered. Repeated infections won't do her lungs any good. Remember that she's entitled to ask for a 2nd opinion if she isn't getting better - no consultant worth their salt would mind. I don't know where you live but she might consider getting referred to a specialist chest hospital.

Another telephone helpline dealing with a wider range of lung conditions (which I personally think is great) is the British Lung Foundation's 08458 50 50 20 (Mon to Fri 10 am to 6 pm) - their website is

Remember you or your girlfriend can always email anyone on here for further support. I'm so glad she has got you to help her get through this

polly x


Astma attack

Hi All

I had a mild attack on tuesday night and then I come down with a cold on wednesday, no thursday I went to a local Gp as I am on holiday and told them I had asthma and she gave me some anti biotics, I had been cough loads all day and takin selbutamol reguly,

Then last nit had a asthma attack and went to A and E and had 2 double selbut nebs and I was also given pred as well breath been much better I have got pred fo five days aswel,

I called my gp and told them he dint seam to be worried

I'm on clinil modulite, singula selbutamol and pred as any one else had any problem like this


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