Bronchiectasis?

Hi all. I was wondering if anyone had any ideas for me. I was diagnosed with mild Bronchiectasis about six years ago. My health is quite good apart from a lot of phlegm morning and evening. What I don't understand is for most of the years I've had it, I've only suffered with phlegm from September through to May. Summer I'm completely clear, although this year it's carried on. Also if I take a benadryl tablet every night, I have no phlegm at all the next day. The only reason I don't take them every night, is that they started giving me a lot of heart palpitations. My husband thinks all l have is an allergy. What do you think?

12 Replies

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  • Hi, Fuzzy12. Who diagnosed you with mild bronchiectasis, and what sorts of tests did they use to make that decision? If you were suffering from an allergy, you should be able to identify something in your life that you used to have in your life only September to May, but now have all the time.

  • I had a scan at the hospital. If it is an allergy, I have no idea what it is. Taking the benadryl seemed like a miracle cure, apart from the side effects of heart palpitations. I still take them, but not as much.

  • Then I would trust the hospital's diagnosis rather than your husband's. Benadryl contains an antihistamine and a decongestant which would ease symptoms of swelling and irritation in your respiratory tract. But according to my local pharmacist, antihistamine products should be used with caution by people with lung problems. Have a chat with your local chemist.

  • Hi Fuzzy 12 - I have bronchiectasis and asthma and generally well in the warmer months but am often unwell between September and April. Usually have an exacerbation, try to get over it and then another comes along. No idea why this is but try to get the best out of the summer months. The phlegm is the breeding ground for any bug that comes along so I hope you have been given the exercises to do to keep your lungs as clear as possible as there are usually more bugs around in the colder months. Might be worth checking back with your GP?

  • Maybe Bronchiectasis effects us all differently. The doctors haven't been particularly helpful at all. My niece is a physiotherapist and has shown me how to clear my lungs by huffing. I had a chest infection before Christmas, which antibiotics cleared. Then I had no phlegm at all for a month. Perhaps I should just be grateful that benadryl gives me some relief from it , whatever​ it might be.

  • Hi fuzzy, I am a lifetime bronch. bronchiectasis is a fickle little devil. The way it performs depends on the organisms which get into the lungs and cause an increase in sputum. This can happen at any time of the year. I tend to be more well during the summer or when I am able to avoid catching somebody else's virus ( which usually results in an exacerbation caused by a secondary infection) in the winter. Some people, like me, just gradually, over the years, produce more sputum regularly which doesn't make them ill but needs scrupulous clearing to prevent bugs growing. I would suggest that you get your sputum tested in case you need some antibiotic and discuss the change with your consultant on your next visit. If you are feeling 'under the weather' with it you probably do have a bug in there which needs knocking on the head.

    As far as allergies go, I developed allergies to rapeseed pollen and some tree pollens. This can make me wheezy when I am not usually but hasn't increased the amount of sputum. It is worth investigating though.

    I hope that helped.

  • I don't have a consultant at the moment. I used to see one, but felt it was a waste of time. He didn't really help at all. When I said benadryl helped, he rubbished it, so I didn't go again. I joined the Ramblers and my fitness and breathing have really improved. Others have noticed it too. I've moved to a new area now, so if my condition deteriates, I will see my doctor about seeing a consultant again.

  • Absolutely great that you are rambling! Now seriously, every bronch needs a permanent specialised bronchiectasis consultant. GPs and most general respiratory consultants are woefully ignorant about bronchiectasis. Start doing your homework now. Start looking for a bronch specialist at your nearest large teaching hospital. Go to your GP armed with a name and tell them that you require a referral to that person. Do not take no for an answer.

    You need answers about the current increase in sputum. It does seem unusual that an allergy alone could cause such an increase in sputum in bronchiectasis. However, bronchiectasis is exacerbated by additional irritation and inflammation and if you have an allergy which is inflaming your airways this could have caused an exacerbation. Unless you have your sputum tested you will not know if this is the case. For example, the day after every 'bonfire night' I would start an exacerbation, caused by the smoke in the air debilitating my chest and allowing bugs to grow.

    I am concerned about your long term use of antihistamines. There is no doubt that they do reduce inflammation and mucus production caused by allergy. They can be helpful with the symptoms but not treat the exacerbation. However, they can also change the mucosity of the sputum which may mean that it remains down in the lungs and eventually becomes infected. They can also lead to uneven heartbeat (AF) and are not recommended for anyone who has an element of asthma with their bronch. I take them for motion sickness when I cruise but this is intermittent and short term and I don't have any asthma.

  • Hi Littlepom, who told you that antihistamines are bad for someone with lung conditions. I have allergies, asthma and bronchiectasis. I have taken antihistamines daily for most of my life. You have me worried now. Maximonkey

  • It usually says on the sheet that comes with them. Don't take my word or it as everybody is different. Ask your GP

  • Thanks for the advice. I have been thinking about getting another consultant so I will do that. I do also worry about taking the benadryl and so don't take it so often. What you mentioned about the sputum staying down in the lungs is something i thought might be happening, so I only take it occasionally now.

  • Agree with others on here.

    1. BronchX is a chronic disease and sufferers must have a specialist and not rely on GPs. After a while many sufferers gain enough knowledge from their care providers and more form patient forums like this and 'Patient' so that they can self-maintain to a large extent, but annual monitoring should nonetheless be performed by a specialist (perhaps the only exception would be someone with very mild bronchX and where the specialist agrees a longer period of monitoring).

    2. Sputum levels seem to vary considerably. I have periods where I am generating 50 plus mils a day and some where less than 20. Rarely nil but have heard of others who are virtually nil for a period. Seasonality can have a big impact on general health - I live in Thailand - warm all year round and high rainfall for one third of the year. When I come back to visit the UK in winter my condition often deteriorates - not so this time around as the weather is sunny and dry so far

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