Is my commute killing me?

Background about me.

I'm 25. I have Bronchiectasis that I believe was caused by a chest infection I had about a year ago. I work in London, which of course means commuting using the Bakerloo line to work, and Jubilee on the way back. I do this because the Bakerloo is much more dusty.

Whenever I come off the underground about an hour or two later I start coughing and can feel a wheeze in my chest, my voice will begin to crack and I need to clear my throat a lot.

Effectively it feels like I'm coughing up a post nasal drip, which I typically do get whilst on the underground.

I asked this question to my GP and chest specialist whom had no answer, so hoping to find out from you guys what you think.

I'm confident the throat clearing and cough is from the underground. But is it because the dust is causing my post nasal drip and THATS why I'm coughing, or is it because the dust is settling and causing damage to my lungs and I'm actually coughing and clearing up mucus? I cant tell.

What do you think?

17 Replies

Hi to you and welcome. I'm in London too. Born here and gone away for the odd few years but settled back (I'd hoped permanently) in 1997. Cycled to work for years as I was well fit!

I now firmly believe that the pollution has really done for me in terms of lung health so have to move away.

Belief confirmed recently when I was push-chairing an out of town child around Central London and she began to cough and wheeze terribly from the traffic fumes (of which most is diesel).

All I can suggest is covering your nose & mouth whilst on & off the tube at the very least in the hope less fumes get in.

Sorry I can't help with the PND versus lung mucous.

I don't have bronch btw so I hope for your future health you'll be able to work closer to home or further out of London. P

Thanks for the reply.

What kind of lung health problem made you move away?

I'm quite young and want to be around the area as its good for my experience for future career.

To be honest I have no idea whats going on. I have no idea if its a good idea or not to stay here. My partner is moving into London and I'm moving into Surbiton which is not inside London but close to it.

I spent almost no time outside in London which is good and most of it in an office or a quick stint on the tube. My main concern is that the tube is doing me permenant damage and making my bronch worse. I cant live with that. However a drop thats causing the cough and no additional damage I can live with.

Is wearing a mask on the Tube not an option for you? Regards Rib

Hi, it wasn't health but parents who decided to move to the country when I was 14, grrr it was awful!

I came back until going to France to study when I was 19 then I didn't make 'home' until 1997 and I've been so happy in leafy Wimbledon - a few stops in from Surbiton! ...

I've got 4 weeks left now as I've sold my home, regretfully time to move somewhere cleaner.

Health wise it was a mistake to return to London, if only I knew then what I know now.

I'd had undiagnosed asthma all my life. Now, I've mild copd, had a rough time for a few years but now I've got it under control.

If I were you I'd take to wearing something like a silk scarf just to quickly pull up over your nose n mouth. It might help a little in keeping the crap out of your airways.

Puffthemagicdragon put up a post today about NAC Acetyl... Can't spell it but it looks like a very good supplement (also prescribed if I've read correctly). I'd consider taking it.

Keep very fit, learn breathing techniques to strengthen muscles around ribs, lung area & diaphragm.

See your GP the minute you think you've an infection - don't wait for an appointment, go in as an emergency.

Eat well, stay fit. Keep coming on here, lots of Bronchs to give you advice. stay away from fumes as much as you can. Regards, P

I've thought about it but dont know...I mean its an option and I know it shouldnt matter what other people think but still...

When I was in London last time, years and years ago, I remember masked people going around especially cyclists. For myself, it has been proved that good air has helped my lungs. I would be at all happy going to London nowadays. xx

Another great link Stilltruckin.

Hi mini mayhem

As you have bronchiectasis are you on azithromycin? I've found this seems to help with PND and generally reduces mucus and consequently the coughing is less.

You may be better Surbiton if you can get the overground.


I'm on a inhaler but its non steroid, supposed to open the airways and decrease mucus creation. I dont think it helps to be honest as I dont feel any different apart from when I do sport I find it much harder to breathe.

Hi I lived in London for many years and never had any real problems caused by traffic pollution. Don't forget millions of tube journeys are taken every week and there is no evidence commuters there suffer more than elswhere in the country. Of course London is very polluted but unless you are someone who already has lung problems (in which case pollution might make it feel worse) then I don't think you are more at risk than anyone else. That is one of the downsides of living in a big city but as you point out there are many advantages.

You might be someone who is especially susceptable to all forms of pollution in which case your best bet is to move away to a much smaller place where there is less of it.

I have moderate copd but visit London on a regular basis. I don't find I cough more there than by the seaside where I live. There are pros and cons. Others might disagree with me but this is only my opinion.


Minimayhem has bronchiectasis

I really do appreicate you opinion. I think your right in that it does make me more susceptible to pollution, it equally it may be that its causing a PND thats making me cough. The fact that I can walk around on street level with no issues and then go underground and have problems makes me think its probably dust and not general pollution thats causing the problems.

London always makes me ill!

I would suggest that you maybe drink a little more water while on the Underground. Breath though the nose as much as you can and maybe apply a little Vaseline in there too catch the dust. I used to notice when I worked on the underground underground part that I was not only a lot grubbier but my goo was always darker. Not forgetting that there are many people on there crammed together and some might have an infection or other. It is a still a great way to get about London.

Be Well

Bloody hell good ideas!

Thanks for the replies all! Today I did something different.

Instead of getting the bakerloo line I got the jubilee line instead. Much less dusty. So far I feel much better. I spent less time underground on the deep tube as I had to change after 4 stops and get the hammersmith and city which is virtually dust free. Going to see how the rest of the day goes and report back, if it makes a difference this will be my commute from now on until I move.

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