Antibiotics for Chest Infections

Hello everyone,

I was wondering what antibiotics people take for their chest infections when they get them? I was always of the impression from years ago that chest infections were always viral (viruses) and therefore antibiotics are not any good for the treatment?

Do people have a "go-to" antibiotic and do you find you sometimes have to change the type that you are taking as they current one isn't working?

How long do your chest infections last for? My last one was pretty nasty - antibiotics didn't do much and had it for a month!

25 Replies

  • Hi Kevin, it's always a good idea to have your sputum tested when you get an infection, that way they should be able to give you correct ABs for whatever infection you have. There is not really a standard 1 kills all. Hope this helps a bit! xx

  • Hi Kevin, my husband has emphysema, and has an "emergency" pack of Doxycycline and steroids in the house.

    According to the British Lung Foudation nurse at the rehab group Doxycycline is the recommended antibiotic. And yes he does have to have a sputum test before and after the course just to check there are no other bugs left, hope this helps.

  • Hi. Doxycycline makes me violently sick so I have slow release Cfalexin,one a day plus steroids.

    I take Azithromycin three times a week for most of the winter months

  • Dr always gives me Cefalexin . I don't know how effective it is . These things seem to go on forever. Seems best when they are given with Prednisone . Hope you are better soon .

  • Chest infections can be both viral and bacterial.

  • I have stand-by packs of Amoxicillin and Prednisolone. They seem to be effective most "exacerbation" times. I have had reactions to other anti-B's so moxy is my go-to. Good luck.

  • I'm the same as Edwardo medication wise. I've got COPD and I think where I live, its the standard drugs issued.

  • My last lot were not my usual amoxacillin but a massive dose of 2 types that seemed to get it under control but needed another course. I am now showing signs it is coming back so another trip to GP I think.

    But I do know it is not a case of one fixes all. I had an infection in 2008 that showed first signs it was being killed by an AB only to fight back. I was told that they were still analising it after I went home as it was such a strange bug.

    Be Well

  • When I was first diagnosed with COPD the doc prescribed erythromycin - I had a terrible reaction to it, and so am now on clarithomycin which I can tolerate ok.

    Doc always tells me to keep a course as a standby.

  • All the "mycins" seem not to like me very much. As they say, different strokes for different folks. What am I saying, "strokes" !!!!?

  • I have copd and have always taken amoxycillin and steroids prednisolone if that helps.

  • Always steroids and a right old mix of antibiotics! Clarithromycin have worked well for me this time. I always have a 'rescue' pack of steroids and antibiotics at home and am advised to start them at the mere hint of a sniffle!

  • I have used Clarithromycin for the last few years until my last infection when it made me feel sick and upset my stomach so Doc gave me doxycycline so I am not sure now which one I will have to keep as my rescue, will have t0 ring them.

    take care

    polly xx

  • Hi Kevin, chest infections affect people in different ways and can last for weeks. My hubby Pete has Clarithromycin for a full blown infection and maintenance doses of either Azithromycin or Doxycycline. Infections are viruses generally but, if they continue for long enough, can end up being bacterial so the ab's will then help. We try and time things to enable Pete to get the best out of his ab's when he uses/needs them. He has the maintenance ab's to help prevent chest infections in the first place.

    Good luck to you and hope you can stay well. xx

  • Hi ab's can't help with the common cold or flu but they certainly help with chest infections. I am allergic to penicillin so take doxyclycline and steroids which usually work very well. x

  • Greetings :)

    I have an either/or of amoxicillin and doxycyclin plus seven days of 30 mg prednesilone. I keep an emergency supply of both (infections invariably start on a Friday night, after my GP has gone home!) A sputum test is necessary to make sure that either one is appropriate or if I need something else... I picked up two drug-resistant bugs earlier this year, which colonise the lungs and reappear when my health deteriorates. Bah!

    I've also been given azithromycin to take on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays over the winter to fend off infections.


  • I hadn't heard that but I think they give you antibiotics anyway. I usually get amoxicillin 500, if that doesn't work move to dioxylin for 2 weeks

  • Forgot to say during a really bad infection I was prescribed one called augamentin but I think they only give you that if the others don't work

  • Hello Kevin. I have taken all the previous named antibiotics in the past. When I was given azithromycin I was told I was lucky to be prescribed it because it is so expensive. I now have a 2week supply of clarithromycin to self medicate when I Have an exacerbation but really you should have a sputum test to make sure you're taking the most effective one. As someone who suffers from bronchiectasis my problem is knowing when to take antibiotics as I don't want to take them unnecessarily.

  • Hi Kevin

    The antibiotics I have at home are the ones which, from many previous samples, appear to be the ones my regular pests are sensitive to. Before I start them I usually get a sample down and then go straight on them. This saves me precious time and generally keep me out on hospital more frequently than would be the case if the infection were left to it's own devices. These abs may vary from person to person.

    The cause of a respiratory exacerbation can be viral or bacterial, the former not needing antibiotics and the latter needing them. Some of us bronchies do find however, that even if we get a virus we then go on to develop a seconary bacterial infection.

    love cx

  • My GP treats every infection I have, whatever the cause or location, with double dose Clarithromycin. So far it's always been successful. I'm severely allergic to some others so it's a case of 'better the devil you know'.

  • Thank you all ever so much for the replies. It's very interesting to hear that people are on such a wide range of AB's.

    Can any of you help answer the following:

    1. Are most of you on different AB's as your doctor put you on those at a long time ago or have most of you got your spatum tested and found that that is the most ideal AB for you?

    2. What's the process of getting spatum tested - how long does it take to get the results / will they tell you what AB you need once you have the results / do you normally have to ask your doctor for the spatum testing?

    3. What reaction have many of you had to certain AB's - upset tummy etc?

    4. When you find a chest infection coming on - do most of you get your spatum tested or do you just go with your normal AB?

    Thanks again

  • Even a significant increase in clear or white/light yellow sputum is unlikely to be an infection, but an increase in inflammation - requires an immediate 7 day course of oral steroids (30mg(6x5) pd prednisolone or the like)recommended (seen some say 6 first day, then5 2nd,4,3,2,1 reducing dose), no ABs required.

    If the mucous colour is (or becomes) dark yellow/green/brown time to start your ABs and get a sample lab tested to ensure your on appropriate ones.

    Don't rely on surgery getting back to you, chase up following day.

    Get urgent/emergency appointment at GP either way.

    Best wishes.

  • Whenever I get a bad infection I'm given Amoxicillin, if it gets worse I am then given Flucloxacillin and Predisolone. My infections appear to last longer as I get older, am 74 now, but there are many antibiotics that I'm allergic to so I have to be careful.

  • Certain antibiotics work against certain bacteria If you know what is causing the infection you can find the drug to use against it

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