British Lung Foundation
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X-Ray was normal, I'm not responding to any medications, and symptoms only getting worse

A little over a month ago, I started developing some strange symptoms. It started with just a cough, so I took some OTC cough meds for several days which did nothing. After that I went to my GP who prescribed some antibiotics, which also did nothing. My symptoms started getting worse after a week or two, to where I was having a hard time breathing and had a strange feeling in my lungs. It's kind of hard to explain, but it's sort of like I'm hyperaware of my lungs in my chest, like I can actively feel them sort of like when you stretch a muscle. After a night of having such difficulty breathing that I considered going to the emergency room, I returned to my GP. I have a history of mild asthma, so he originally attributed my symptoms to an asthma flare although I've never had symptoms last longer than a day and never this severe. He gave me several medications, and had me do nebulizer treatments every six hours for about a week which was always very effective for my asthma. At this appointment he also checked my blood oxygen percentage, which was slightly low(I want to say 95 but I can't remember). When I still didn't respond to any of this and my symptoms continued to worsen, he had me have an x-ray of my lungs. Much to my surprise, the x-ray came back totally normal. GP prescribed yet another medication, and I haven't responded to that one either. I feel like the symptoms have started to get exponentially worse, to the point that I'm coughing and sort of gasping for air for much of the day. A couple times I coughed up small amounts of blood, but not enough that I felt compelled to go to the hospital. Other than that, it's a dry cough.

I do have a history of weak lungs, to the point that when I'd do peak flows the techs would flat out tell me they didn't believe I was actually taking a deep breath even though I was to the best of my ability. However, I've never had symptoms like this, especially that last so long or been nearly this severe. It's to the point that my GPs basically have no idea what's wrong with me, and I'm honestly starting to get kind of scared. I've dealt with other strange symptoms that took years to diagnose(temporal lobe epilepsy), but at this rate I need to get some sort of answers asap. It's gone from a mild cough to practically choking, and my lungs just feel sore like an overworked muscle. Searching these symptoms online brings up lung cancer websites and such, but since the x-ray was normal I really don't know what to think.

3 Replies

I cant believe that you have not been referred to a lung specialist!!! Maybe this could be a heart problem??? Either way, get back to your GP tomorrow and demand an urgent referral to a lung specialist; stress the word urgent. Are you in the UK? If so, urgent referrals take up to 2 weeks to get seen. This is absurd and not acceptable at all. If your symptoms get worse meantime, get to A & E; call an ambulance. Good luck; id be interested to know how you get on. Your gp needs sacking!


X-rays don't always give answers and that's why people have CT scans and other procedures to determine a proper diagnosis.

You do need to see a lung specialist probably so go back to your GP and tell him how you are doing.

Take care xxxxx


This is pathetic nisroc. If your GP can't help and doesnt know, then s/he should be referring you to someone who can, not sitting around like a limp dishrag. And if the X-ray is showing nothing, and various meds haven't made any difference, then maybe you need a CT scan. These give a much clearer and far more detailed picture of your lungs.


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