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Recurrent throat/chest infections and asthma


Hi, I am 39 yo and have had asthma since I was 4. In the last few years I have suffered from repeated throat and chest infections, mostly viral but some bacterial, which cause my asthma to flare up. Last year I had 6 of these, this year I have had 3. I am off work sick with one now, after being back only 8 weeks since the last one. Does anyone else have this regularly?

A couple of years ago I had chest xrays because of the frequency of illness, but happily these were all clear. My doctor has told me I may just be more prone to normal respiratory infections in the first place because of my asthma, and then because of the asthma they are worse than they would be for other people. Has anyone else been told this?

I have tried to improve my immune system generally by eating healthily, exercising and taking bee pollen, manuka honey and Allicin Max (garlic supplements). I think my recent illnesses have followed me running out of Allicin for a few weeks, so I have now bought a new 6-month supply! Anyone got any other tips?

Also, I feel guilty and worried about having time off work. I work in a small team that is stretched as it is and my colleagues have to cover my work as well as their own. I am a union rep at my work and am confident I would be able to fight back effectively if I was ever challenged about my absences, but this doesn't stop the worry and feeling of guilt. I am interested to know how other people deal with this. Thank you!

25 Replies

Have you just had normal x-rays or a ct scan? Normal x-rays show up things like serious infection but not other complications that sometimes come from long-term asthma. It might be that you've just had a run of bad luck or increased susceptibility but it could be something else.

JoBo1979 in reply to Minushabens

Hi, Minushabens. Thanks very much for your reply. It was just normal xrays that I had. What kind of complications could there be from long-term asthma that a ct scan would pick up? Haven't heard about this before so thank you!

Minushabens in reply to JoBo1979

There are endless possibilities really, but common examples are things like bronchiectasis. If your lungs are under long-term pressure then you airways can get damaged in all sorts of ways. If they become widened, for example, then their normal mechanism for removing bacteria can become less effective or even stop working all together, meaning you always need antibiotics.

I’m obviously not saying anything like that is the problem, but I think you might have arrived at a point where you could do with at least ruling it in or out. Often sputum sampling is a good starting point as that will tell the doctors if your lungs have more bacteria in, or a wider range than normal, then they might consider a CT scan which shows up the detail of your airways.

JoBo1979 in reply to Minushabens

Thanks very much indeed for all this. I will look into it and ask my doctor. Much appreciated!

Sorry to hear you are dealing with this. Sounds like you are doing a lot to boost your immune system.

You and your team being so stressed at work can’t help. You could try adding vit C and quercitin to your supplements list and maybe carrying a small bottle of antibacterial hand gel at work. Make sure your spacers etc are thoroughly clean between bouts.

Saline/bi carb/xylitol rinse for nose may also help if sinuses/post nasal drip is an issue in the cycle.

But if the pattern remains maybe you need to seek a referral to your asthma


JoBo1979 in reply to PeakFlo

Hi, PeakFlo. Thanks a lot for your reply. Really appreciate the advice on further protecting my immune system, and I hadn't heard of Quercetin, so thank you for that. Happily, nasal drip is not a problem for me!

I did speak to my doctor earlier this year to find out about being sent to a specialist to find out why I was getting all these infections. She was going to send me to an ENT consultant but said she could only do this if my infections were all diagnosed as tonsillitis! A couple of them had been, but not all, so in the end I didn't get the referral! I was a bit surprised that tonsils were the only thing they were interested in. I'll try again. Thankd again for the reply!

I went through a phase of this. In my case, stress contributed. My gp thought that I kept getting them so closely together because my immune system had taken a battering and so I caught everything going for a while.

The things that I did were change my working pattern (not everyone can do this so I was lucky), take up yoga and take vit D.

Look after yourself and hope you get a s spell of good health soon.

JoBo1979 in reply to Llamafarmer

Thanks very much for your reply, Llamafarmer. Really glad to know that things got better for you. I have had more infections at times of stress in the past too. I think I'm going to ask for an occupational health appointment at work as it can't hurt. Take care.

Llamafarmer in reply to JoBo1979

Good luck- hope it goes well.

Hi JoBo.

I've also had chest infections almost constantly for the last 15 months. My asthma never has long enough to recover in between bouts.

I also had an x ray and a sputum sample test which came back clear and other than change my preventative inhaler my doctor seemed to have run out of ideas.

I gave in to the fact that it must just be my normal now although it didn't feel normal. I have now fallen pregnant and one mention of this issue to the midwife and I got an instant referral to the thoracic specialist at the hospital. My first app is not until January, but at least I'm finally being taken seriously!

Not that I'm suggesting you get pregnant to solve your problems of course! But it's interesting how you are made to feel it's normal then a baby comes along and suddenly it's important to get checked by a specialist!

I hope you push for more tests, my feeling is that we know ourselves when we are not right and no one wants to spend more time at the GP clinic than they have to!

I also work in a very small team/family run business and I find the guilt of letting everyone down means that I go to work regardless, although I'm not always doing much while I'm there if I'm feeling rubbish!! I am the sick note of the family, no one else seems to get anything more than a cold whereas I've always had issues with allergies and asthma so I don't feel like anyone understands. So I totally understand your guilt!

Hope you get sorted soon!

JoBo1979 in reply to BP135

Thanks so much for that, BP. And many congrats on your pregnancy! My partner and I are actually trying for our first baby at the moment, so if we are successful it will be interesting to see if I have the same experience as you!

I would be really interested to hear how you get on with the thoracic specialist. I do hope they are able to help you.

Really good to know I'm not the only one who feels like that about work, so thanks for that. I hope your colleagues/family are at least sympathetic about your health. I do think it's important to just have a full rest when you need it, but that's easier said than done sometimes, isn't it?

Take care, and all the best with the pregnancy!

Hello I am recently diagnosed with Asthma it’s been a hellish two years with recurrent chest infections and courses of antibiotics and steroids

It’s very scary having Asthma I guess because I am newly diagnosed x

Aw, try not to be scared of it - just make sure you are getting the help you need and don't hesitate to get seen to if you start to feel worse. Take care.

So I saw doc yesterday now that I'm on my second chest infection in the last month (or maybe the first one never really went away, though I did feel well enough to go back to work for a week and a half - just felt like I had a normal cold). Doc signed me off work for another week and agreed with me that I seem to be getting slowly better. When I asked if I could have some kind of investigations done to find out why this is happening so regularly she said I didn't need a chest Xray or anything and should start with an asthma review with the nurse in the first instance. I said I'd had my annual asthma review the previous week! Nurse had wanted to see me back in a month though, so doc said stick with that initially. I did say I am concerned because of currently trying to conceive and wanting to be as healthy as possible for that, but it didn't make any difference. I guess I'll just have to push it when I see the nurse.

BP135 in reply to JoBo1979

How did your app with the asthma nurse go JoBo?

JoBo1979 in reply to BP135

Hiya, been meaning to reply for ages! Nurse basically said I hadn't been ill enough times to warrant further investigation. I cited my chest infections in September, November and December last year, and she said that because I didn't have anitbiotics and Prednisolone until the last one, she was only counting that as one infection! I mention the six infections I'd had in 2017, but when she looked back at my record and saw that some of them were logged as tonsillitis, she said those don't count as being related to asthma. I asked if my immune system could be investigated then, and she said no as I clearly do bounce back from each illness, so it is working. I asked about MRI scans to investigate whether the structure of my lungs has changed after 35 years of asthma, and therefore made me more susceptible to infection, but she said this only happens when the asthma is untreated or uncontrolled, which is not the case with me. She said she is not worried about me but that she's like to see me every three months instead on every year, so we're just going to see how the next three months go. I bought myself a car for Christmas as the train service where I live had become appalling and I realised that waiting about on freezing cold platforms for hours on end when they are regularly cancelled was not doing my asthma any good (cold weather has always been a trigger for me), so have been driving to work for two months now and happily I have been healthy so far this year. Of course I am now contributing to air pollution which isn't going to help either and which I feel guilty about, but I couldn't afford a green car unfortunately. Spoke to my MP about it recently. Anyway, I digress! Thanks very much for asking, and I hope you are well.

BP135 in reply to JoBo1979

Oh that's annoying that because you decided to stay home and fight some of the infections yourself (I do that too) they don't count that as an infection! My doctor counted mine.

Have you been on the same inhalers for a long time? A friend of mine is studying to be a pharmacist and she said that your body gets used to the medication after a few years and should be changed if your asthma feels like it's not as well controlled as before.

I've seen the lung specialist now at the hospital and she said best case scenario for me is my asthma has got out of control and she has changed my meds to see if that works. Worst case is bronchiectasis, which they can't investigate until I've given birth because I cant have a scan done while pregnant. I've been on my new meds for 6 weeks now, was due for a check up at the hospital this week but they've messed up and booked me in for April!! So I'll just have to see how I go, so far I haven't had any improvement.

Don't feel bad about using your car, your health is so important and you've got to do what's best for you, I know what you mean though. I'm impressed you went to your MP to discuss pollution problems. I'd never think of doing that. Hopefully they can do something to make green cars more affordable.

Take care x

This is true about inhalers. Before I was diagnosed with Asthma at 19, I had spent the previous 4 year constantly getting infections which were being investigated and checking glandular fever and so on. Note those 4 years I was constantly getting infections were very stressful as well (parents divorce, O Levels, moving, A levels and so on).

At 19, I went to Uni and changed GP's. I completed a routine initial health questionnaire on joining the practice asking (a) how many infections last 6months (b) coughing (C) disturbed sleep and so on.

(d) family history of certain medical conditions including Asthma.

The GP suspected asthma gave me a PF meter had to take readings 3x a day for a month and when saw readings decided I had asthma. She put me on Becotide and Ventolin and as if by magic my first 2 years at Uni were infection free (such relief).

Then in year 3 of uni, my mum had a health scare and I was doing finals, that year got a couple of infections and had an asthma attack in my final exam. (looking back I am sure my first asthma attack was when I was 15). The GP changed my inhalers and again this stopped frequency of infections.

Note I was on Seretide a long time then last few years increased number of infections. I should have realised and asked for change in inhalers but it's like I had forgotten.

Seretide got changed by hospital Respiratory Nurse to Duoresp Spiramax in December.

I can't believe you weren't diagnosed sooner, LD! I think it's really true that stress can lower your inmune system and lead to more infections too. Hope you're feeling a bit better overall these days. It's good to hear that a change of inhaler was beneficial to you. Has the Duoresp Spiramax helped these last few months? My doc recently doubled my Fostair to a very high dose, but I'm due to see the nurse for a review in a week so I think I'll ask if I can just try a different inhaler instead. Thanks for all the info, and take care.


I'm not sure. 5/12/19 started an infection called moraxella catarrhalis it is resistant to a number of antibiotics and I'd been sent by GP to A&E who nebulised did bloods, chest xray and sorted antibiotics and more prednisolone. They made an appointment with Respiratory Nurse for the Monday a(I as in hospital on a Friday), where she changed to duoresp spiromax and said I'd get review in about 3months. Reviews happening this month.

Although by wk 4 I was no longer infection it took till week 8 to feel human and it was week 10 before my voice went back to normal (about mid Feb).

6 weeks (27/3/19) later got another respiratory infection this time not bacterial and thankfully only lasted a fortnight (till about 10/4/19).

Started doing peak flow pre review at hospital this month. Up till last week PF fluctuating 350 to 390.

This last wee been better between 370 to 400.

Hopefully settling down.

(on Duoresp Spiromax, Salbutamol, Monteleukast, Loratadine and fluticasone nasal spray - Asthma+Hayfever).

See what say.

I'm wondering if peak flow improving because last couple weeks been using sauna/steam/aromatherapy room and sauna. Definitely when use it helping bring phlegm up


Really sorry to hear about all of your infections. Must be so hard to live with. I had many many infections when I was younger. I had my tonsils removed at age 8 (ish ). That was the end of my constant infections. I still get chest infections on the rare occassions. I think it's a good idea to go with the tonsils . Take care and may God Bless you and always keep you

Sorry, I am terrible at replying!

BP135, how are you doing now - have you had the hospital check-up now? Hope the new meds have made a difference for you and that you don't have bronchiectasis. How is everything going with the pregnancy - do you have much longer left to go?

The thing is that with the three infections I had towards the end of last year, I DID actually go and see the doc and nurse during all of them, but they thought the infection was viral and so didn't give me antibiotics until the last one. Why this means that the whole thing only counts as one infection is beyond me. Anyway, I'm very pleased to report that I still haven't had any more infections now since I've been driving in to work and not waiting about in the cold for trains! Hope you're feeling better too. Has the pregnancy itself affected your asthma at all?

Kevinking, thank you for this. I have been told I haven't had tonsilitis enough times to have my tonsils out, though! Did it help with your asthma when you had yours removed?

I also suffer with recurrent chest infections since I had a PE three years ago I have recently been diagnosed with Asthma I was admitted to A &E yesterday with exaserabation on more steroids x in the last three years I have suffered about 50 chest infection. They say I have clinical signs of broncheictasis but ct scans are all fine.

I hope you start to feel better soon x

Thanks for that - I hope you are feeling better now too. So has anyone been able to give you an answer as to why you get so many infections and what it is if it's not broncheictasis? Sorry to hear you have been so poorly. I currently have my first lurgy of the year so I'm not doing too badly. The doctor has just put my Fostair 200 dosage up from two puffs in the morning and two at night to four in the morning and four per night. I'd thought I was already on the maximum dose!

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