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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!

15 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.


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!


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.


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

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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


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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.


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.


Good luck- hope it goes well.

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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!


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.


How did your app with the asthma nurse go JoBo?


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