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British Lung Foundation
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really bad cough/chest infection

Hi, i really need some help. I've been suffering form a chest infection for about two weeks now. I went to the hospital and they gave me steroids, an inhaler and antibiotics and it got a bit better and then i had a cigarette and it got a lot worse so i went to the doctors and they gave me more amoxicillin and another inhaler. i am still coughing up green/rusty coloured phlegm, haven't smoked at all, rested drank lots of water/honey used vapour rub ext done all home remedies and now am about to use up my inhaler and am still wheezing and coughing really badly. i don't know what to do as its really hard to get a doctors apptment and my work means that i can't have much more time off. i don't have asthma but it feels like that.

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19 Replies

Hi, I can understand your concerns. Personally I never accept amoxicillin as an antibiotic. Their rules say they have it as a 'first line of defence' biut it has never worked for me over 4 years so in my fith year of chest infections I refuse it and much better on stronger antibiotics (I have Azithromycin but others are good too, just not amoxicillin).

Call your GPs first thing (it's flipping Friday, naturally). Tell them you need an emergency appointment for a chest infection. They cannot risk ignoring people with respiratory problems. None of us wait days or weeks for an appointment, you could end up in A&E with pneumonia!

My practice operate an emergency appt system when the emergency line is open from 8am for apps in the morning. It's a Godsend.

I take Manuka honey 20+ it's said to fight bacteria. Expensive but it works for many of us. Drink plenty of fluids to keep the phlegm moist enough to cough up - if you get to doc insist on doing a sputum sample so the can send it off to get tested for the right antibiotic.

If they refuse an emergency appt or sputum test then it's time to change your GP. .

Think about stopping the cigs. I don't know how old you are but they have a habit of catching up with you and you end up with COPD - which is manageable if you can quit.

Good luck to you DianaG. Peeg


you will need doxycycline or co-amoxiclav as amoxicillin is not working


I am 18, and i will try my doctors tomorrow. thank you so much for your advice. what really worked were the steroids until they ran out and a nebuliser the hospital let me use but whether my rather rubbish gp will have one is a different story. i am intending on giving up cigarettes as it is scary how much nasty stuff i am coughing up. i am just hoping for an improvement soon

Hello DinaG.

You can go to the Chemists and ask for an emergency Inhaler, to help until your Dr can prescribe Two a month,these cost about £7 or ask mother to go if you can't take your prescription ,or call an Ambulance the hospital will sort it all and make out prescription to pass on to your Dr....then you get repeat once a month.Hope this helps (Don't Smoke) and do not be afraid to ask the Dr for a referral to an Asthma Consultant be adamant,that is what you want Or if you go to Out Patients they will get it under control regards Lola.


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Every cigarette you smoke it will get worse and worse until it kills you,stop smoking and live.


Please go to the Doctors - I know it is difficult to be assertive at your age (my daughter got a doctors apt for two weeks time - she will either be dead for cured by then!!!!) If they tell you - you cant have an appointment - ask for the doctor to ring you back as it is urgent. They can do that - or even the practise nurse. You have to keep asking, by the sounds of it your infection has not cleared up and you need more antibiotics. If you are coughing up horrible phlegm and struggling to breath you have an infection and it will only get better with the drugs! If you have problems try ringing the BLF helpline (Click on the red balloon in the corner) - they will be able to help you deal with your doctor and give you some useful information. Good Luck TAD xx

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Hi, after years of repeated infections being treated with Amoxicillin then being moved onto Doxycyclin at a second or third attempt to clear it, I always insist on Doxy straight off now. I can understand their reluctance if you are fairly new to antibiotics as they seem to become less effective the more you use them so to start off on a lower strength will give the option later of a more effective/stronger one. Do give up those cigs, I know it's the hardest thing in the world, but will make a huge difference to your life and hopefully prevent something far more serious happening. Good luck! Libby xx

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I agree STOP smoking, I know people will disagree with me but I get so annoyed with people who are so ill and yet still smoke. I have so much to live for and when I first became breathless I was terrified, them cigs went straight in the bin, dont get me wrong it and I was a nightmare but life is so precious.


It's not as hard as you think.....the first week or two is the worst. Only a couple of weeks in exchange for a better quality of life and longer life. No contest. I smoked for 42 years and stopped 11 weeks ago so I know it's hard but not as hard as nicotine fools you into thinking it will be. Go for it, don't look back.


It sounds like you need to get a sputum sample checked in the lab to ensure the antibiotic you are using will be effective against the particular bug you have. Phone your GP and request a telephone chat, the gp's are normally extremely helpful and once you explain the situation hopefully they will give you an emergency appointment as they don't normally prescribe drugs without seeing you.

If you don't do something you could end up being admitted into hospital.

Hi I had exactly your symptoms (although I don't smoke). I had 2 weeks of antibiotics which didn't help then I was put on steroids for 2 weeks. They seemed to help a little. However my doctor also sent me for an X-ray which showed something and then I was referred to a consultant for a CT scan and finally I have been diagnosed with bronchiectasis. It was the last thing that I expected. So please, please, go back to the doctor and insist on an emergency appointment and get properly checked out. Ask for an x-ray. I don't want to scare you but it is so important to get thoroughly checked and then you receive the right medicine. Good luck.

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Dear Diana,

I feel for you; I had bronchitis at the beginning of the year; it took two rounds of steroids and antibiotics, and inhalers.

Have you had your lungs x-ray'd? You might want to do that. It helps to sleep with a steamer next to your bed, if the air you breathe is dryer...don't know what your weather is like, actually, but mine is dry.

I know I felt really impatient for my lungs to heal, and my coughing to stop; and now I'm much better. I can honestly say the antibiotics really helped me; cleared up my sinus infection as well.

I'm sure you realize smoking is not good - I quit in '93 and I now have scarring on my lungs because of it.

I know it's hard to be patient, but you will start to feel better - the body just takes time to heal.

God bless you.

I agree about the steamer it is a godsend for me, i have a large Vicks (purchased from amazon) one that holds enough water to last the whole night, i use olbas oil with it as is a lot cheaper than the Vicks one. When i am really bad with my chest i also use it in the day. And if you haven't made it to the Drs don't wait until monday got to a walk in centre, urgent treatment centre or A&E - the longer you leave it the longer it takes. And sometimes we have to be kind to ourselves and say I am not fit for work as being in the constant temperature and environment of home is better than keeping on changing


Last week I was feeling really poorly and thought I had chest infection or worse. Went straight up to the doctors without an appointment. Had a word with snotty young receptionists and asked to see the emergency doctor. They tried to put me off but just told them I have COPD and have to see a doctor right now. I told them waiting until the next day for an appointment wasn't an option! After sticking their little pert noses in the air and looking like they had chewed a wasp they reluctantly agreed. Don't be put off by these rottweilers! Get in there.

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i really feel for you, you are so young I would go back to A&E they will phone your GP and get you an appointment they have a way of getting past the guard dogs who usually sit at the front desk.

Get your infection cleared up and then go to a quit clinic they are free and ask about champix I smoked 29 + a day for 20 odd years and I gave up 10 years ago sadly it was to late for me I have COPD and since last May I have had infection after infection I can't remember a day when I felt good, if you need support giving up the cigs many members have done it and would support you good luck take care. x

The first thing to do, IS THROW AWAY THE FAGS!!.

Although it`s Friday you can always go to A&E especially if you are having trouble breathing.

Failing that, make an emergency appointment with your surgery, phone as early as possible as soon as reception is open, and don't be like I was and just accept none available, insist on an appointment on the day.

You need to have this seen to.

Kind regards.


Do try and stop smoking, how ever hard it may be, unless you want to live just a quarter of a life at 60, whilst all your friends and family are out enjoying themselves, I smoked for many years then emphysema struck at 50, down hill all the way then,until at 65 severe, NO Brainer.!!!!! Your choice. All the Best

Hi all, I've just registered and finding this site very helpful. I currently have a chest infection and medicating with Amoxicillin 500mg 7 day course, blue inhaler also Prednisolon tablets 5mg, 6 tablets a day for 5 days. My breathing has eased, but still coughing and unfortunately still smoking (although have cut right down.) My question is, for those that gave up, what advice can you give. I tried the tablets last summer, but they made me feel ill, stomach cramps, terrible nightmares, nausea etc.... Once my chest infection has cleared, my doctor wants me to have the COPD test!

If it keeps carrying on after the chest infection has gone consider getting asthma tests, it sounds like you may have asthma from the symptoms that you have described

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