Copd chest infections: I have severe... - British Lung Foun...

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Copd chest infections

patj profile image

I have severe copd and I have had a chest infection now for over a year, take antibiotics and eases then in a week or so its all back again. Can anyone tell if they get the same with copd.

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37 Replies


Yes I had Pneumonia June 2013 loads of antibiotics and steroids later still kept coming back, then I saw my consultant and he put me on Azithromycin, it's an antibiotic you take one tablet three times a week to prevent infections not had one since. I know I wont stay infection free forever, but it's changed my life before I felt ill all the time I don't now. Ask your consultant about it my nurse said they are putting more and more patients on it.

Kim xxx

lily26 profile image
lily26 in reply to kimmy59

I asked my lung nurse about this med told it is not given to with COPD

kimmy59 profile image
kimmy59 in reply to lily26

Well that's stupid I have severe Emphysema and I've got it, ask your consultant or GP, I was given it because of repeated infections.


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Hidden in reply to lily26

im also on azithromycin like kimmy your nurse dosnt know what she is talking about and has given you wrong information a lot of us are on that antibiotic its to prevent infections

i take that and colomcyn in a nebuliser

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Hidden in reply to Hidden

It is called the postcode lottery! I recently moved area and from the help I was given due to copd in my old area which included specialised GP and regular Hospital MOTs with specialised Respiratory Nurses and Doctors, my new area has absolutely nothing and can only offer palliative care when I'm diagnosed as dying. They even question allowing me to have home antibiotics and steroids here and I have had to insist and get my old respiratory nurse to stay on-board to get them to understand that with 25% lung function and regular chest infections I need it. How I wish I hadn't moved! So regular antibiotics to stop infections are not given out in my area either.

patj profile image
patj in reply to kimmy59

Thanks very much for you reply I to like you had pneumonia only in July this year. I do feel so I'll all the time. I'm under the chest clinic who has suggested going onto Azithromycin every other day. I saw,my GP on Friday and he has given me Azithromycin every other day. Says there are side affects such as heart rhythm so have to have regular ECG done and deafness. Have you heard about these side affects ?

kimmy59 profile image
kimmy59 in reply to patj


Yes I have heard of the side effects I've been extremely lucky and not had any apart from a little nausea after taking it, little bit of advice someone on here gave me take the tablet first thing with plenty of water about half hour before taking anything else.

Good luck I'm sure you'll feel better soon.

Kim xx

patj profile image
patj in reply to kimmy59

Thanks Kim good tip x

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yes i have copd and have been on antibiotics for a year to get rid of Pseudomonas

have they done a sensitivity test on you ....they should take 3 samples or sputum over 3 days then they send it off to see which antibiotic is best but if its Pseudomonas you sometimes need more than one antibiotic

They are ringing me both doc and lung nurse if no better I will have to give a sputum sample I feel as of my chest is full but doc says it is clear it's the pain in my back witch I have never had before but doc did not seem concert about it

Path, you need to ask for further checks, are they doing sputum checks before they give you antibiotics? They really must find out what you are infected with (or colonised with possibly) and give you a decent antiB.

I was like this, chronic continuous infections over three years after 5 x pneumonia in 18 months out of the blue (I didn't smoke). They kept coming back.

Finally a GP put me on a course of Azithromycin - not the prophylactic doses like the others above - it can be prescribed in different ways. . . my couse was 500mg on 3 consecutive days followed by 7 days off times 3 so it took 30 days in all. (this antiB is said to stay in your system for a good few days when you stop taking it).

The first course didn't do it so I did a further 30 day course and have never looked back.

After that I did everything in my power to rebuild my immune system and have stayed quite well for 18months.

I don't know about you but I was almost suicidal with my miserable existence. Life as I knew it was over. It was a terrible blow. Retired early as I hadn't the energy to do my stressful job and became cash poor.

On my present regime (I dare not alter it) I'm rebuilding my lost, busy, vibrant life into something different. I have Azithromycin in my rescue pack.

If I hadn't got better my GP would have put me on Azith prophylacticaly for the winters at least.

Without some wonderful people on this site sharing their knowledge & experiences I might not be here now. I'm sure of that.

So Patj, please give the BLF helpline a call to get some expert guidance on how to move on and learn loads in managing your condition.

03000 030555 Mon-Fri 9-5 the cost of a local call from a landline I believe.

All the very best to you. Sincerely, Peege

patj profile image
patj in reply to peege

Thanks so much for your reply, I do feel just like you did so depressed and is it all worth it. My GP has of this week put me on Azithromycin every other day 250mg.

I had been given it every day about a month ago 250mg but still for only one week but it still didn't get rid of it totally.

I will give BLF helpline a call.

peege profile image
peege in reply to patj

Good luck. It worked for me over the longer period I mentioned above and mine was 500mg.

I know we are all different though. There WILL be a way, I'm sure of it.

Also, have you got yourself some acidophillus? You really need to get back the good bacteria in your gut that all the antiBs have destroyed. I get mine in Holland & Barrett, 2for1. Those expensive little drinks are no good, full of sugar. P

peege profile image
peege in reply to patj

PS You are worth it so hang on in there.

I'm so envious you've got Prof Wilson. I had a next to useless Prof at St George's in London (where I lived until two weeks ago). He was horrible, dismissive and oh so rude.

helingmic profile image
helingmic in reply to patj

Patj, No it won't go in one week, as I explained above, you need to be persistent with antibiotics, and not just takem ntil you feel better (which you should feel after a few days) but really have a dose for several weeks to eradicate the bug. The stop and go policy is not good.

Again I tink you ought to have your sputum tested to enable the consultant to prescribe a drug that will target the particular bug. and take this for several weeks, not just one.

When I go to hospital, they put me on intravenous for a fortnight and some more to take home.

Also some antibiotics, especially taken for just a week, get burnt and of no use anymore.

Hi patj, sorry to hear you are so poorly and or so long. It is a vicious circle that gets worse and worse. Do ask your g.p. or cons. about azithromycin. It has changed my life around after suffering the exactly the same as you. It could work for you too. If you are prescribed it don't forget to have a liver function test every 2 months. In some people it can affect your liver. Also stop straight away if you notice your hearing fading another side effect for some people. In the meantime make sure you have a sputum test for each and every infection. Everyone can be a different infection and so need different antibiotics. I have been able to clear all the bugs in my lungs so have now stopped azithromycin and cons. Says at least 4 exacerbations before going back on it. In the meantime treat with Augmenting if I have an exacerbation. Hope this helps and wishing you good luck with your recovery. barnowl

patj profile image
patj in reply to barnowl1

Thanks so much for your reply. I have as from this week been put on Azithromycin 250mg to take one every other day. Fingers crossed it works. I was given Azithromycin 250mg about a month ago to take every day but after about a week it was all back. Now I have been told I have to have ECG done because it can affect your heart rhythm nothing about my liver,but did say about hearing. Thanks again for your help. Patj

barnowl1 profile image
barnowl1 in reply to patj

Glad to hear some thing is being done for you. Hope it works and you soon feel much better best wishes barnowl

helingmic profile image
helingmic in reply to patj

Patj, It may be of help to take Vi C with Zinc (zinc enhances the immune system), Vit D helps you too (especially as we won't have enough sun to produce enough vit D) and acidophilus (helps with the digestive system , but lso helps with building a good number of friendly bacteria which fight the bad ones) sinc I tok these regulalry, it has helped me tremendously. Caught no infection yet (touch wood!)

notlocal profile image
notlocal in reply to barnowl1

My doc won't give me sputum tests as he says it's now accepted that there are so many other bacteria hanging around in the mouth that the tests cannot be held to be reliable. Yet it seems that I'm the only one on here who DOESN'T get sputum tests! :(

No you are not the only one. I have had COPD and infections for years now and not once has anyone asked for sputum test. Maybe we attend the same surgery!!!!!! Totally useless! I would change but unfortunately in my area there is nothing better to change to! Sorry state of affairs in GP practices I am afraid.

Apart from the above I'm reasonably happy with my doc. We cooperate well and he seems quite clued up. I'm also happy with my consultant although I don't seem to have a COPD team like Suzy6 below. Where can I get one of those?

helingmic profile image
helingmic in reply to notlocal

Ask for you to be referred to the Pulmonary team by the consultant. It's in your right.

Anurse would talk to you about the value of sputum tests. (I cannot see how you would be treated if antibiotics are given haphazardly).

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Hidden in reply to juney_99_antique

Totally agree with you, I'm in the same situation juney_99_antique no sputum tests, no GP appointment, definitely no home visits evening pneumonia our surgery runs a phone triage system, you get to talk on the phone to a doctor for 2 minutes if the receptionist deems you qualify after giving her all your details.

Suzy6 profile image
Suzy6 in reply to notlocal

I don't notlocal. I will ask again next time I go to the Doctors. Was told the same as you. I have an assessment with my COPD team in a couple of months and to be frank I trust them more than my Doctor or Practice Nurses. :(

barnowl1 profile image
barnowl1 in reply to notlocal

Hello not local, your name suggests you are not in the U.K. I am and here originally g.p. would not give me an antibiotic till a sputum test result said what antibiotic to use. Eventually I was given a general antibiotic till the sputum results came back and then changed to the recommended one. Later I asked for a referral to a second cons. There was no problem and this one understood all the symptoms I was displaying and was able to treat me. Even the g.p. is pleased to have someone to refer to when problems return. Also he has stated to always start me with augmentin, a stronger antibiotic. So you see you can get help if you persevere. Hope you are able to sort things out and soon feel better barnowl

helingmic profile image
helingmic in reply to notlocal

I don't understand the doctor's reasoning. yes we have millions of bacteria floatingt around our body, but when there's one that dominates, it's that one that produces the illness. the microbiologist detects those and indicate which drug targets the specific bacteria. Try to have a second opinion!

notlocal profile image
notlocal in reply to helingmic

Bonjour helingmic (I won't make the mistake again of using Vlaams!). I'm seeing my consultant in the next few weeks because I'm going under the knife (LVRS, removing my left upper lobe) and I'll ask him. He's the only second second opinion I've got.

helingmic profile image
helingmic in reply to notlocal

Oh dear, You have no choice. But He would probably give you all the drugs to protect your from having any infection after the operation. This is big, but I sincerely hope it will help you with your breathing.

I suppose that there must be a microbiologist that will watch your progress too by doing tests (blood tests which can also detect an inflamation)

This is big, but hope it all goes well for you, my Vlaamsche vriend (I deliberately used the old spelling, I find it more "romantic"!) Take very good care of yourself.

notlocal profile image
notlocal in reply to helingmic

Thanks helingmic! Bonne chance and the best of British luck to you too!

Hi barnowl1. No, I live in the UK but I'm 'not from round 'ere' (think Royston Vasey! . I've just had a 5 month infection where no ABs seemed to work and I'm now steroid dependent. I'm interested in the continuous Azithromycin as I'm terrified of going through all that again.

patj, The way you take AB, unfortunately is worng. You need to take the antibiotics for longer, (two weeks usually; sometimes longer) This is because, as you rightly say, you feel better, but not all the bacteria are killed off. If there remain only a few, they will reprocuce in about a couple of hours bu the rate of 1 million an hour!

No wonder your illness never stops. Speak to your consultant about it. Perhpas, you need to take a sample of sputum, ask your consultant to give you some sputum pots. In that way teh bacteria will be targeted by the right AB. The you have to take it unitl it's eradicated.

The way you take itnow might even proiduce a resistance to the antibiotics. Then you'll have to go to hospital for intravenous antibiotics. Hope this ehlps and gets you well soon.

All the posts have been informative but I seem to be in a different situation. I have COPD emphysema, I seem to get infections soooo easily, but they last 2-3 weeks. - the past 15 months I was getting them every other month. Luckily my practitioner nurse specialises in lung diseases so she is clued up. I was taking amoxcycillyn (sure I've spelled that wrongly) which is an antibiotic and also Prednisolone (8 a day) but the last time I had a change of antibiotic and took co-amoxiclav along with the prednisolone. That worked a lot better. I usually have to take the medication for at least 2 weeks, and sometimes 3. So far, it has worked for me....luckily! I am trying desperately to prevent my next infection and am taking Vit C, Manuka Honey, Boots 1st Defence, etc., etc....and I wear a scarf wherever I go, so I can cover my nose and mouth the minute I hear someone sneezing, coughing, and splattering all over the place!! Perhaps I am kidding myself, but I tell myself this will all help. I soooo do not want infections every few weeks. Good luck to you all. :)

Hi Patj, I had repeated chest infections for two years, I'd go to the doctor, he'd give me antibiotics and it would clear up and then 6 - 8 weeks later it would be back. As I said this went on for two years until he decided to send me to see a consultant at the West Suffolk Hospital and she asked me if I would be prepared to go to Papworth Hospital near Cambridge, that is the local specialist centre for chest and heart conditions. They had me in hospital for 2 weeks giving me intravenous antibiotics and I soon improved and my flare-ups were much less frequent. I still attend there 12 - 15 years later (I've forgotten how long I've been going ) they are excellent and there is always someone at the end of the phone if you feel ill. So my recommendation to you is that if you are only seeing your doctor you ask for a referral to a consultant and don't be put off. Good luck and take care, Lizzy x

I have been reading about N-Acetylcysteine, which at high doses is supposed to help prevent exacerbations in COPD. It's available to buy as supplement, though side-effects should be studied and whether there are any contrindications.

I also read about sulforophane, which is high in cruciferous vegatables such as Brocolli, cauliflower. Cooking kills it so steaming the veg in a bag, for a max of 5 min's prevents this. I will find the link and post.

Article on sulforophane, which is highest in Brocolli sprouts, but can also be bought as a supplement.

Ive had another chest infection & went back to doctors today,fed up of 1 after the other. Asked him about Arizothmycin, gave me it with no problem,have to wait a week until finished course of AB's but with what he said fingers crossed it will help. Willing to try anything!! I had to suggest it though!! Only got to know about it through everyone on here!! Only went back because I really thought I had pleurisy, used my rescue pack but got really frightened with pain round ribs. Turns out I've torn muscles with coughing so much! Oh well better outcome than what I was expecting. Will keep you all posted when I begin taking them. Breathe easy all xxxx

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