Chest infection/asthma flare-up lingering on

Hi, I'm new here, and struggling with a recent flare-up. I had asthma as a child/teenager, mainly triggered by cigarette smoke and colds, but seemed to 'grow out of it' after I left school. I've had very few issues as an adult and hadn't been on a preventer for years. But I started with a chest infection 3 weeks ago and all of a sudden my asthma has been exacerbated and I'm struggling to recover. It seemed to come out of the blue and I've never been this bad with it before or responded so slowly to treatment. After a week of feeling generally really rough, and one GP dismissing it as viral and asking if I was stressed (?!), I ended up at the out of hours GP on Easter Saturday with my lowest peak flow ever. A week of amoxicillin and 10 days of prednisolone didn't make much of a difference, and I felt like the GPs I saw weren't taking me seriously when I tried to explain how bad I was feeling. Finally last Friday I saw a great GP who realised that my air entry wasn't very good, that the air wasn't actually getting to the bottom of my lungs which may have been why the previous GPs couldn't always hear much wheeze, and he put me on the nebuliser, and prescribed doxycycline and more prednisolone. I am improving now, but slowly, and finding it hard because this is so unusual for me. My chest is clearer and my peak flow is gradually rising, but my chest is still tight, I'm still feeling extremely tired and quite wobbly on my legs, and I still can't look after my 3-year-old on my own for very long. Am I just being impatient? I guess I'm finding it hard to get my head around it, after being symptom-free for so long. Sorry if that's been a bit of a ramble!

12 Replies

  • No you are not being impatient but, that said, you may have to be patient a little bit longer.  If you are not getting enough oxygen into your lungs it will have a knock-on effect right through your body and deplete your energy reserves.

    If it is so long since you have had any problems have you looked into 'diaphragmatic breathing' at all?  It may not have an instant result, given your current condition, but it can help enormously if maintained as a lifestyle change.  It does take a conscious effort to start with for it to become habit so, if you do decide to try it, try setting an alarm to prompt you.

    Although you might think that breathing comes naturally, and does to the newborn, the vast majority of us pick up bad habits along the way and resort to only using the upper portion of our lungs.  This happens for all sorts of reasons, stress being the biggy but workstation ergonomics, tight clothes & waistbands are equally to blame.

    There is a wealth of information available on the internet and some very good videos on youtube (although there are some very poor ones too), Cain Carroll and Theo Simon spring to mind.  This webpage is a good start but if you want something more specific to the condition just do a search for 'diaphragmatic breathing asthma'.

    Not much consolation, I am afraid, but I hope it helps 😊.

    A drink made from 3 tsp of oregano steeped in hot water or a spoonful of turmeric boiled in milk  might help.  Sweeten with honey if necessary.

  • Thank you so much for your reply. I'll definitely have a look at diaphragmatic breathing. I sung in various choirs for many years and the breathing control that comes with that definitely helped, my healthy peak flows were always above average, but I haven't sung much since my daughter was born and may well have picked up some bad habits, so the diaphragmatic breathing will be useful.

    I do wonder if my asthma had deteriorated without me realising, as I'd got out of the habit of keeping a close eye on it. I've had a lot more colds in the last couple of years (picking up my toddler's germs) and that used to be a big trigger for me. I'll definitely be more vigilant now, and I'll be making an appointment with the asthma nurse to talk through it all and make an action plan.

    I just can't remember feeling this tired with it before. Maybe it's because I'm older, or I was already run down, or because I'm a mum now and thinking about all the things that need doing that I can't manage so I'm noticing it more - or maybe I'd just forgotten!

  • You're welcome.  I know what it is like to be at your wits end with not a clue where to go next :)

    Our bodies try hard to keep functioning in the manner to which they were designed but modern lifestyles and overabundance of toxins are never conducive to best practice.  Whilst, on the whole, I admire our health service tremendously I do think it is under a lot of pressure and tends to take the easy way out by treating the symptom rather than the problem so am always on the look-out for ways to help myself.  If you look at the many ailments that can, at the very least, be eased by diaphragmatic breathing it is a shame that GPs don't train their patients in it.  Of course it does rely on the full commitment of the person doing it.

    In light of other things that you say here, as well as your asthma, may I suggest something else that takes a little commitment? (Folk on these fora are going to get fed up of hearing me spout about this.)  Investigate kefir  Although you will find a few early reports pooh-hooing its use there is more and more scientific evidence to the contrary and it is fast being recognised as a cure-all.  From your point of view, amongst the many benefits reported by users is increased energy levels.  Another is mental clarity.  It is a probiotic drink of which there are 2 types, milk and water.  The milk one was a closely guarded Tibetan secret for thousands of years until early last century when Russia managed to smuggle some out.  Until the breakup of the USSR it was even a standard treatment in their hospitals.  The water type has a less certain history but is thought to originate from a cactus resin.  They are both probiotic though the milk one has a more significant strain.  This is the one I normally recommend.  Commercial kefir products are available but, again and because they have had to be standarised to extend shelf life, they do not deliver the full range of probiotics.  It wasn't very well known when I first came across it but is now growing in popularity so there is a wealth of information available however this site belongs to the guy recognised as the kefir guru

    Another thing that you might investigate is ghee.  Ghee has a millennia old reputation in healing.  Not only does it too have an ability to boost energy but Ayurveda regards it, amongst countless benefits, as a vital food for healthy skin, good digestion and mental clarity - promoting memory and intelligence.

  • I'm very interested in natural supplements etc, and had already been looking into things to boost immunity (elderberry syrup, and chyawanprash, for example) before this happened, so I'll definitely expand some of my research and have a look at those. 

  • there are some wonderfully powerful herbs and spices out there.  In addition to the two I have already mentioned, then, you might also want to look at ginger, echinacea and lobelia.

    Have you tried an elimination diet at all?  Do you drink soda/pop/fizzy drinks?

    Chyawanprash is a new one on me but with all those ingredients there probably isn't anything it can't fix :)

  • I can understand your frustration. I have just joined this forum after being discharged from hospital Monday evening following asthma flare up combined with Swine Flu and pneumonia. I too have gone years between needing asthma treatments and then suddenly bam and really serious. I have also been told in past I have a silent wheeze??some health professionals seem to understand this others don't. I find that when my asthma starts up I get like a dry irritating cough not a wheeze. Drs in hospital have now said regardless I have GOT to take preventer inhaler everyday and night now.

    You know your own body and how you feel if you are not improving and still feel not right go back.Hope you soon start to feel better xx

  • I saw your other post - what a scary time for you! I hope you're recovering.

    Re the silent wheeze - this time, three different GPs told me my chest was clear, despite very low peak flows and other signs of infection and asthma. Then I saw the doctor last Friday who listened much more carefully to my chest and realised that I wasn't getting good air entry/movement, which was why there wasn't a fully audible wheeze. It wasn't a full-blown attack, but the air wasn't getting to the bottom of my lungs at all so there was no wheeze there. My air entry improved after the nebuliser so he could hear better what was going on. It's an issue I've had before I think and one I'll be more aware of now. Like you, I often get the irritating cough instead. When I was a teenager I was fortunate to have a really good GP who understood asthma very well and knew me and trusted me when I said I was struggling. Now it's completely hit and miss who I see and some seem more knowledgeable than others.

    I'm tapering down on the steroids now and still gradually improving. If I'm still not quite right next week and/or I struggle when I go back to work I'll go back to the GP again. I'm back on the preventer inhaler every day now too. I'll just have to get used to being more vigilant again.

  • akela6th, do you have a peak flow metre?  If you don't, ask your GP to prescribe one for you and either get him/her, or the dispensing pharmacist to explain to you how to use it.  A peak flow metre can act as an early warning system that not all is well with your asthma.  It will take a few weeks to work out what is normal for you, but once you know that a PFM can be a very good indicator of how effectively your lungs are working.

  • I was issued one whilst in hospital. I have used one years ago so familiar with them. My asthma has history of disappearing for years at a time,no symptoms medication or anything. Then flares up and goes downhill fast have had 2 ITU admissions (10+ years apart). Asthma nurse at hospital has now said regardless of symptoms I have got to stay on preventer now. I have PFM and diary to record results to take to follow up appointment next month

  • I've just joined as I too am struggling. Never had asthma until my 50's and now at least once a year I get a cold virus which goes swiftly into a chest infection and then asthma. I'm there again and this time at work on Monday had an asthma attack and am now on prednisolone again. I had a couple of days off last week but went back at the end of the week. I definitely didn't realise that the symptoms I had started to get at the end of last week were asthmatic rather than the chest infection. After the attack I looked asthma up online and found straight away that all my symptoms had been asthmatic. I feel really stupid! I'm at home as my asthma is still not good but I feel a fraud not being at work even though I start coughing and wheezing if I walk, talk etc and am best sitting perfectly still!! I guess I need to get used to what asthma symptoms are and to not think I can cope without getting support early.

  • I felt stupid too, I have plenty enough experience to have spotted the symptoms/warning signs and I didn't until it was starting to get serious. Even though I was coughing and tight-chested, I've seen the GP before and been told my chest was clear and it was just viral, and I didn't think any more of it this time at first. It can be hard when you're not used to it - and even though I have experience it was a while ago and I was out of the habit of being watchful. I'm going to see the asthma nurse when things have settled down, to chat about what to look out for and make an action plan. I need to get used to my warning signs again too!

    I've been off work for three weeks, the longest I've ever been off other than a wrist op, and I know I haven't been well enough but it has felt strange. I'm due back on Monday and feeling quite nervous!

  • jillmc1, as with akela6th, a Peak flow metre will help you to get to know your asthma.  If you don't have one, get one, and ensure that someone explains to you how to use it,

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