Frequent respiratory infections, and pain in right hand side of chest (exacerbated by monthly periods) - anyone have similar? Any advice?

This is my first time asking a question - so it may be a little longwinded!

I have Asthma, and Chronic Sinusitis (both of which I do not think are very well managed by my G.P.). My peak flow is usually around 320 - 380 at best (I am 43, female, non-smoker, petite). My Asthma Nurse seems to think this is perfectly acceptable (I have an idea that it should be higher - but I'm not certain what is usual for people). I rarely have Asthma reviews. I used to be invited for Flu jabs yearly, but then my G.P. just stopped it - out of the blue. I'm with a new G.P. now, and they have just started inviting me again.

However, my biggest issue is with the fact that I get regular and frequent respiratory infections. These pretty much always affect my sinuses, causing pain, blocked nose, headaches and yellowy-green mucus. At the same time, I get a scratchy, sore throat (which looks extremely red and tender on inspection) - I cannot depress my tongue easily, so my G.P. finds it hard to check. As the infection progresses, I have a dry cough and slight wheeze. I feel a choking sensation. There is also sharp pain in the right hand side of my chest that makes me want to cough. The pain is located at the back and side, about breast level, and under my right armpit. It feels internally "bruised" and hurts if I inhale.

These infections ALWAYS seem to start either during, or a few days after, my menstrual period!

I have attended the G.P. on several occasions, and they seem at a loss. My old G.P. used to just give me Antibiotics (Amoxycillin/Erythromycin/Doxycycline) over the phone - couldn't even be bothered to see me! When I asked why, they just responded that it's because "I'm known to be prone to infections"! My new G.P. does sometimes give me an appointment (though I think they would still prefer if I just went away and managed it on my own). When I do see someone they usually just say it "is viral" and send me away again! THIS time (I'm three weeks into an infection now) they DID give me Penicillin as it's been so slow to clear.

I am truly frustrated, and worn down by these bugs. They happen pretty much monthly (sometimes more). I've had septoplasty and sinus surgery (twice), also nasal cauterizing. I take any Antibiotics given. NOTHING seems to be stopping the infections. I feel they haven't been fully investigated - mucus swabs and sputum samples were only taken once (and my G.P. had already started me on medication, so they came back negative). I was under a Chest Consultant, but he discharged me as I missed an appointment (I was in Hospital having surgery, because I also have Endometriosis!).

Sorry for such a long post... only I'm getting pretty fed up. I haven't a clue what's going on, what causes it, or how it should be treated/addressed. If anyone has advice or assistance, I'd be extremely grateful.

7 Replies

oldestnewest
  • Sorry I have no idea what is wrong with you BUT I do know what it is like to be unwell and for doctors to not have a clue what is wrong. I travelled all over - private and nhs to try to figure out what was wrong with me(COPD), for a number of years and actually it was my GP who eventually figured it out! It is difficult and I sympathise. My GP is a GP trainer and after she diagnosed me I wrote to her why being diagnosed with COPD was a 'relief' and the positives of the diagnosis. At last I HAD a diagnosis rather than having 'undiagnosed breathing issues'!

    Hope you get some answers soon

  • Hi, I was diagnosed with asthma when I was 47, and my breathing often got worse just before my period, I don't know whether it was the added stress or the effect of the hormones. I was wondering also if you have had any allergy tests, I find I cannot eat cheese or chocolate or wheat products anymore without getting a headache, sinus pain and nasal discharge and a wheeze a couple of hours later. I had allergy tests on my arm in the hospital. My asthmatic daughter is petite and 39, her peak flow is 390 on a good day and was told it should be about 420.

    The BLF helpline is open from 10am during the working week....they can listen and advise you

  • Glad to hear I am not alone (although not so glad to hear that someone else also has problems exacerbated by periods)!

    I did have allergy tests, some years ago. However, they only tested for really obvious things like animal dander, pollen... not particularly conclusive!

    I tend to be careful what I eat, although I don't attribute this to allergies. I have Endometriosis and follow an Endometriosis Diet that aims to reduce consumption of foods high in synthetic Oestrogen (as raised Oestrogen is thought to trigger Endometriosis), also foods high in Gluten and processed foods. Don't ask me exactly how it works!

    Personally, I haven't eaten red meat since in my early teens - I find it upsets my stomach, and my dad and brother have similar problems (maybe it's a food intolerance in my family?). I also seldom eat dairy and fatty/starchy foods like pastry or chips - things like butter upset my stomach. My mum had Gallstones years ago, and again, I wonder of this is a family sensitivity? Other foods and some drinks have become problematic only since I have had Endometriosis - I find it hard to tolerate alcohol,. fizzy and caffeinated drinks.

    I have had menstrual problems ever since my teens, and this coincides pretty much EXACTLY with the period of time I have had respiratory problems! I know that I have a congenital abnormality of my sinuses (left frontal is missing or underdeveloped), but I never really had respiratory issues as a small kid. I had one major infection as a baby, and nosebleeds as a kid - that's it. My Asthma wasn't diagnosed until I was about 19 or 20 - and my Chronic Sinus problems were not really addressed until my mid-20s. My best ever peak flow was @400; that was when my old G.P. stopped reviewing my Asthma. The idiot recorded my BEST EVER peak flow as my USUAL peak flow! Duh! It's generally no better than 350!

  • Hi Scooteeder

    I have had respiritory problems for over 6 years now. I first started to struggle at training (outdoors and cold) and got so sick I went for a number of tests - turned out I had an array of viruses in my lungs. I would always suffer with my sinuses too. Anyway for years they told me it wasn't asthma but I couldn't figure out why I was getting sick all the time. After years of trying my best and continuing to struggle, a new registrar at the hospital looked over my file and decided it definitely was asthma - hooray? well I started on symbicort and a releiver inhaler though I still get sick. In the last 5 months I have had 4 antibiotics. Also over the last 5/6 years I have also had neurological issues like blacking out etc which would always happen 5-10 days before my period and was usually followed with an infection. Long story short looking back at dates etc and taking a closer look more recently - I am always at my lowest just before my period. The reason for this (I believe) is I read somewhere about the direct link between fluctuating oestrogen and the airways. Apparently its not about high point or low point rather the rapid fluctuation during the female cycle that causes such a dramatic outcome - low immunity and then infection? This is the theory im going on anyway as ALL my health problems started when I came off the pill over 6 years ago. When I ran this theory by my Doc she said to go back on the pill and see if there is any change. Im hopefull for some improvement - I think I will take the pill and not break for the 7 days ie skip a period and see if I go a month with out feeling like/having a chest infection - how amazing that would feel! It has been years of feeling exhausted, sick, un-socialble, depressed and helpless. I really wonder just how powerful hormones are.

  • Hi again, just a thought ....can endometriosis spread to the lung?

  • Hi Scooteeder,

    You are absolutely right about infections and periods coinciding> I have read that its due to low immunity at the time in a womans body that somebody who is prone to infections will get one at the time. I am 42 old woman, mom to 2 lovely kids> I was under asthma medications for a very very long time, and just a year ago have been diagnosed with bronchiectasis. What you said about the phelgm and mucus made sense to me, as only if i get my very first sputum sample in the morning, does it show chest infection. Since you also said you had an infection as a child , that also seem to be a coincidence as some times that could be a cause for Bronchiectasis later in life. Please do get back into the hospital system with the Respiratory team.

  • Hi Scooteeder

    I have had respiritory problems for over 6 years now. I first started to struggle at training (outdoors and cold) and got so sick I went for a number of tests - turned out I had an array of viruses in my lungs. I would always suffer with my sinuses too. Anyway for years they told me it wasn't asthma but I couldn't figure out why I was getting sick all the time. After years of trying my best and continuing to struggle, a new registrar at the hospital looked over my file and decided it definitely was asthma - hooray? well I started on symbicort and a releiver inhaler though I still get sick. In the last 5 months I have had 4 antibiotics. Also over the last 5/6 years I have also had neurological issues like blacking out etc which would always happen 5-10 days before my period and was usually followed with an infection. Long story short looking back at dates etc and taking a closer look more recently - I am always at my lowest just before my period. The reason for this (I believe) is I read somewhere about the direct link between fluctuating oestrogen and the airways. Apparently its not about high point or low point rather the rapid fluctuation during the female cycle that causes such a dramatic outcome - low immunity and then infection? This is the theory im going on anyway as ALL my health problems started when I came off the pill over 6 years ago. When I ran this theory by my Doc she said to go back on the pill and see if there is any change. Im hopefull for some improvement - I think I will take the pill and not break for the 7 days ie skip a period and see if I go a month with out feeling like I have a chest infection - how amazing that would feel! It has been years of feeling exhausted, sick, un-socialble, depressed and helpless. I really wonder just how powerful hormones are.

You may also like...