Antibiotics: Hi I was diagnosed with... - British Lung Foun...

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Hi I was diagnosed with COPD September 16 .I was given emergency antibiotics to keep at home to take at the the first sign of chest infection and am unsure if I should take them now , after decorating last weekend using gloss paint I have symptoms of a head cold ( blocked nose , sore / irritated throat coughing first thing in the morning with some green phlegm ( doesn't feel like its from my lungs more from my throat ) which appears to clear my throat with no further phlegm throughout the day .Any advice would be appreciated .

16 Replies

It do not sound like a chest infection as if i get one then it is 24 hours sounds like it is just a slight cold

Hi Annette. Doesn't sound like a chest infection to me, but if you're concerned or start to feel ill with it then I'd let your GP or the nurse have a listen to your chest. Hope it clears up soon. XXX


Hi it sounds like the paint has caused an exacerbation. As a general rule if you cough up coloured gunk (more than just once in the morning) you have a chest infection and need ab's and maybe steroids as well. The exception to this is if you are not and feel ill then it could be a more severe chest infection.

If not then you might just need steroids to clear it. Do you have those in your rescue pack? I do in mine. If you are not sure it is better to use them than not as leaving it could cause further damage to your lungs. x

Annette6 in reply to Hidden

Thanks ,I wasn't given steroids just antibiotics , I don't feel unwell just feels like a head cold with a little phlegm first thing in the morning .Maybe I'm just being over anxious .


This is one of the questions I shall be asking at my "review of my breathing" later today. We are told to take the antibiotics and steroids at the " first signs of a chest infection" without anybody telling us what those first signs are!

I suspect that I'll be told that a chest infection will make me feel really ill, whereas a COPD flare-up is not much more than a serious inconvenience. My old granddad used to cough all the time. He reckoned there was a gold clock down there.

Aidi-Joll in reply to Hidden

Hi Don. I introduced myself earlier today on your initial post I think.

Please let us know how you got on yesterday.

🐾 Aidi-Jolll

Hidden in reply to Aidi-Joll

Hi Aidi-Jolll, nice to meet you. I posted the result under the heading Spirometry Test Pt.2. I don't wonder you are getting confused, I've posted too much of late. I'll be disappearing up my own backside shortly. :-o

A chest infection can start with just one "dirty" cough in a morning but it would normally quickly increase over a couple of days till there's no doubt. I don't always feel ill with one, just really tired. If you cough up green gunk several times a day I would start on the pills.

Aidi-Joll in reply to teenieleek

Hi Teenie

I saw your post earlier, then couldn't find my way back to it. Now I'm glad I did, because I wanted to ask you about when you've had a chest infection and not really feeling ill. Just the occasional cough and tiredness. Is it easy to downplay things when you really shouldn't?


teenieleek in reply to Aidi-Joll

I usually wait 24 hours before I start the pills. On Friday I coughed up loads of stuff morning into afternoon and it definitely looked suspicious and I was fairly sure it was an infection but waited. Yesterday I had to do all the breathing and huffing to produce a tiny amount and it was the usual white. What was Friday about? Who knows? But an infection doesn't go away like that. I think I must have breathed in something my lungs didn't like, dust maybe, I've been clearing out cupboards.

Hi Annette. I have bronchiectasis rather than COPD & at the first sign of green stuff I'd be straight on the antibiotics. It's a sign your immune system is producing lots of white blood cells to fight infection. Of course that infection might be viral rather than bacterial but I'd take them rather than risk it.

hi annette...what i do is take the steroids for about 3 days and watch how i feel, etc. could be just a start of exacerbation! if i can tell it is an infection (sore throat, yellow phlegm, headache, etc. then i use both steroids and antibiotic.). i am conservative with the antibiotics because our bodies can build a resistance.

I have oxygen tester for my finger and some other tools. This helps with letting you know if your oxygen levels are going down. If your feeling breathy when talking really tired. I would get checked out by a Dr.. After I got a chest infection didn't even know I had one. It was during Paint see on site I ended up in the Hospital had chest infection bad one. So anything green in your phlegm get it checked. For me the tool I have It will tell me if I'm not getting better then I go to my action plan if that dosn't work over the next five days then Dr's plus you have a cold but check first with the Dr you don't want to take antibiotics unless you do have a chest infection .... Hope your feeling better soon.

You'll be missled with an earlier post.

Significant increase in sputum production clear/white/yellow/light green - start steroids.

Increase in sputum & change in sputum colour to green/brown AND increase in temperature is likely (but still not certainly) chest infection.

If you can get emergency appointment with GP, do that before starting ABs; they should get you to do a sample there & then for lab test to identify bacterial infection and prescribe appropriate AB. ABs are worse than useless if it's a virus, because you'll build a resistance to the AB, and it won't help with the virus anyway.

If it's bank holiday or w/e start your ABs and/or phone 111 for advice -

Best wishes.

Tatters in reply to soulsaver

There's some sound advice in this posting. It seems to say all the correct things.

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