British Lung Foundation
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Not sure what's happening!

Hi. I've never been on here before but I wondered if anyone had any advice etc for me..

5 weeks ago I woke up feeling really unwell. I was breathing really loud and felt breathless.. I felt like I had someone sat on my chest and my chest felt tight. I also had a cough with phlemn (clear) I had to ring in sick at work ( I do home care for the elderly and bike around for my 12 hour shift) that day I slept 3 times through the day. Over the next 5 days my breathing and congestion in my chest started feeling a little better but I'd still have periods of feeling breathless. The feeling of someone sat on my chest had gone but I still had tightness now and again. I still didn't feel right so went to see the doctor. He listened to my chest and said I sound awful and wheezy. He said I might have asthma or a chest infection.. he prescribed me amimoxillin. I was still really congested in my chest and when I breathed out deeply it sounded awful.. Then at night I started having problems. I would wake up and couldn't breath because it felt like phlemn was blocking my airwaves i had to spend about an hour constantly clearing it before I could go back to sleep. This went on for 2 weeks. So we're I am now.. I've had this 5 weeks. I went back to the doctor who said I have asthma and prescribed me an inhaler and he booked me in for breathing tests. I went for the breathing test yesterday and it was awful. When I was breathing out fully it sounded terrible like chest congestion. I went to see another doctor after and she said I was breathing quite long breaths for it to be asthma and then gave me some antibiotics ( clarithromycin) this was yesterday and I'm so confused. I keep having episodes of breathlessness and it feels like all the phlemn comes to the surface on my chest. I need to cough etc. The other day my chest felt sensitive all day when I was breathing. Last night I started feeling breathless and not good while I was watching TV.. I just went to bed. I woke up and felt like I couldn't get enough air into my lungs. I used my inhaler and it went off. I went back to sleep. Not sure if an infection can make you feel like this and if an inhaler would help an infection or it is asthma. I would really appreciate any feedback. I've been reading quite a few posts on here and everyone seems like they know what they are talking about ( more then my doctors lol) just all over the place is it asthma, is it an infection... thanks xxx

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I am not a doctor, just a very long term patient so can't diagnose. However, from your description it sounds like a horrible chest infection, treated firstly with the wrong antibiotic and now being treated with a more complex and hopefully more effective one. Keep an eye on your temperature, give the clarith time to work and keep getting the gunge out of your lungs. I hope you improve soon.

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Hi Littlepom. Thanks for replying. I really hope so too! Do you know if you have really bad chest congestion when you have asthma? If I breath out deeply you can really hear it and when I did the breathing test after I started breathing out I ran out of air and it just sounded awful. I've been lucky enough to never have a chest infection so I don't even know what one feels like and obviously never had asthma. I do know that when you go online near enough every website says a chest infection should go within 3 weeks. I've had this 5 weeks now... thanks xx

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Hi mandyloo, I'm aftraid that I dont know anything about asthma. You have so many questions that I think you should go back to your doctor and ask them to explain things.

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I will do. Thanks for your advice earlier xx

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Hi and welcome to the forum. Now you have the right antibiotic you should see an improvement. If not, do go back to your GP.

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Hi Thankyou.. I will do! Hopefully I'll see an improvement soon. Xx

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You need to learn how to clear that phlegm from your chest once the infection has been dealt with. There's a panel on the right of the screen headed 'Pinned Posts' and the one headed 'Informative Videos' is very helpful.

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Thanks very much Don xx

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It does not sound like an infection to me. It could be asthma. I think you need to go back to rhe doctor as soon as you have a problem. It could be allergy. Pollen is high this time of year.the fact that the spray relieved your symptoms sugests that you are experiencing a tightening of the airway.

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Thanks very much. I will end up back at the doctors xx

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Hi Mandylou, i know your symptoms really well, that is how i now feel most of the time and it is horrible. I spent two years going to GP saying i cannot breathe or i have a chest infection. The first answer was my asthma but i knew it was more due to it getting worse not better. Anyway finally they took a spirimetry test, it took about a minute to do, then doctor looks at me and says you have COPD. Bad but at least an answer after two years of feeling like i was not believed. ( there had been loads of articles about people claiming disabilty etc so doctors were under pressure. Once i got my medications sorted things wete better. It is so scary to struggle for breath, all your life you just breathe without a thought, suddenly each breath can be so important. That is why people on this site are so understanding and supportive, most have been and still are going through it. I have rescue packs at home for emergency situations which really helps me. Have you had asthma for a long time? I hope you are starting to feel better. I found breathing exercises on the internet and they really help if i am bad. Wishing you well.

Sheila1kerry

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Hi Sheila thanks for your reply.

No I have never had asthma. This just came out of the blue. I literally woke up with it.. for 2 previous months I woke up a few times with a nauseous feeling in my throat that made me want to cough. It lasted about 1 minute then went and then I started to get it during the day now and again but not all the time. About a week before this happened I felt a bit of phlemn on my chest but no cough with it or anything. 3 days before I coughed up a bit of phlemn and it tasted awful. The day before this happened I went in town shopping and was literally dripping with sweat. It was a really hot day but it was over the top to sweat like that. I smoked for 15 years but haven't smoked for 7 years. I've never had a cough or breathlessness or anything. I'm 38 xx

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How old are you if you don't mind me asking? I was worried about the copd thing but I think it's more a progressive disease and I think I'd of had some sort of symptoms earlier ie productive cough or breathlessness. Also my breathlessness can happen just when I'm sat down and it feels more like an episode and it does really go off once I've had the inhaler. I bike around for 12 hours for my job and this doesn't make me breathless and I could literally walk forever and wouldn't get breathless. It's more an episode no matter what I'm doing rather then brought on by activity. Also I wake up really breathless and uncomfortable every night.. what do you think? Thanks again xx

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Hi again and many thanks for your response . I am not medically trained and i think you need to speak to someone who is and be really insistant on getting some answers. One reply suggested an allergy and that is a possibility, as you say COPD is progressive and i don't think it took long for you to feel ill. My main message is do not be fobbed off as i was. Even if it is a virus or an infection you need it dealt with as you are suffering. I am 60 now but started to become ill about 4 or 5 years ago. Before that i was always on the go. I used to walk really fast and rarely got breathless, it was a real shock when it started but i know it is my own fault for smoking. Please book to see your GP as soon as possible as your lungs could be getting damaged while you wait for it to improve. If you feel it is getting worse , act on it, drive them mad. My mistake was pride. I used to do my hair , put on make-up etc to visit the doctor. What i should have done is gone in my pj's and slippers, they may have realised i was sick. Lol

Love and hugs, wishing you well❤️

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Thanks for your reply Sheila. I will definitely keep going to the doctors. I'm on my 3rd day of antibiotics and after they're finished I will go back. I think it's natural to want to put make up on and try and be positive built you're right! Sometimes doctors don't take you seriously if you look well. Next time I go i'l go looking like a tramp lol!! Sorry that you are unwell. Things like this are awful. Hopefully you're on the right medication and not suffering too much. I bet this site is usefull to talk to other people and get support etc! I also smoked for a long time but I quit 7 years ago when I was 31. I'm so glad that I did. Thanks for your advice and replies

Hugs ❤

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Hi MandyLou, I'm sorry you have been sick for so many weeks. I'm no doctor, but it does sound more like asthma with the chest tightness. I was wondering if you had a dry cough or a productive cough? If you are coughing up anything, what color is it? Normally, if it has a greenish tint, it indicates infection. The two antibiotics that were written for you are a more less a mild antibiotic. I'm here in the US and if you have a chest infection,often times you are prescribed Levaquin 500 or 750mg. This is one of the "big gun" antibiotics. This should really knock it out. Now with that said, since you took 2 antibiotics back to back, that should have lifted the infection. Antibiotics stay in your system for quite some time after you finish them. I do believe it were me, I would skip my GP and see a Pulmonologist. A lung specialist can get to the bottom of your problem. Let us know how you are doing. Feel better soon.

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HI Thanks so much for the reply. When I cough it is productive but I can also cough sometimes and it's dry but my chest still sounds congested if you know what I mean. When It is productive it's clear or foamy white. It has never been green or any other colour. However sometimes I can get a horrible taste in my throat when I cough but not all the time. My friend said when she gets a chest infection her phlemn can taste infected. Hopefully I will get to the bottom of it soon. Thankyou xx

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Hi, I'm no doctor either but I do have asthma.

Lots of what you write sounds familiar to me. Worse at night, noise on exhale, incessant coughing. All sorts of things can inflame, therefore narrowing the airways limiting what you can get in to lungs and what you can get out/cough up. It's a vicious circle, you need to cough up a little mucous, coughing inflames airways, you cough more, further tightening airways.

Asthmatics are prone to chest infections because we can't cough up a bit of phlegm so it stays there, festering just waiting for a nice little bit of bacteria to pounce & multiply.

If you do have asthma you need to find out what triggers it. There are many allergies - not just dust mite before you start spring cleaning your home, buying hyperallergenic bedding etc. Strong smells, cig smoke, chemicals, mould spores, diesel fumes on the roads can all set you off.

There are also other lung diseases besides copd and asthma so it's really important that you get a correct diagnosis soon before your lungs are damaged.

Clarithromycin is a decent antibiotic, amoxicillin isn't although GPs must always prescribe this one as the 'first line of defence'. I always refuse it. It has absolutely never worked for me leading to worse infections &/or pneumonia and wasting my time and theirs.

It's unfortunate but nowadays we need to be proactive & find out as much info as possible on whichever complaint we have. This patient forum is a great start. There's also YouTube for good demonstrations on how to take specific inharers (there can be different methods for different brands/types). Great graphics on what happens to the lungs & how important they are & breathing techniques.

Yes, both exacerbations and antibiotics can make you feel awful. You really have to take good care of yourself, eat healthily, healthy weight, avoiding pollution, not smoking (avoiding others smoke too).

My personal, bestest piece of advice would be to get some very high - several billion - probiotic capsules. Worth their weight in gold in my opinion to rebuild the essential good bacteria in your gut. This helps your immune system as well for fighting future bugs.

Don't hesitate to keep going back to doc until they get it right. I was investigated for aspergillosis and bronchiectasis eventually after 2 years of chronic infections & pneumonias. Eventually CT scan showed only (only?) mild bronchiectasis so really it was uncontrolled asthma. By that time damage had been done.

Good luck, avoid googling sites other than this one or NHS.

Ooo lengthy reply but I'm avoiding going out to my PR exercise group. Also need to add, just in case, that inhaler prescription is often the same for asthma and copd. P

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As an asthmatic agree with everything Peege has said.

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Hi thanks for your reply. It feels like I have episodes of breathlessness and worse phlemn on my chest and coughing. When I take my inhaler I do feel better. If I take my inhaler I sleep through the night pretty okay. If I don't I wake up really breathless and short of breath and my chest feels clogged up. When I take the inhaler it feels better. I'm worse in the morning and at night xx

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Hi, when you say you take your inhaler do you mean a blue one? If so, that's what's called a 'rescue' inhaler, often Ventolin, it opens your airways fairly quickly & lasts 4-5 hours. We might take it before exercise or going out in to very cold air. Most of us will use a 'preventer' inhaler night and morning to prevent airways closing up so much. My preventer, Fostair, is so brilliant (we're all different though) that I rarely need rescue ventolin.

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Hi. Yes I mean the blue inhaler. If I don't use it I literally wake up in the early hours unable to breath and end up having to use it during the night. I feel like I need to cough to clear my chest and I don't feel like I'm getting enough air into my lungs. I don't feel panicy though. It's more uncomfortable. X

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Hi thanks for the reply. I feel like I have episodes of breathlessness and my chest congestion feels worse and I need to clear the phlemn. It's worse in the morning and when I'm sleeping or on a night. In general I'm not too bad through the day but only after I take my inhaler in the morning. I wake in the night feeling short of breath and uncomfortable but after I take my inhaler I'm OK and go to sleep.. does this sound l8ke asthma to you xx

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If I was u I would call for an ambulance next time u feel that bad ... u need medical attention .. Sure sounds like a chest infection of some sort could be bacterial or viral or pneumonia but I think u need to get to hospital ,

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Thanks hun. I didn't think to do that because I've never really experienced this before and the extreme symptoms like someone sat on my chest and really breathing heavy and loudly went away gradually over a week or so. Xx

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Hi Mandylou my Dr is brilliant his mum suffered with poorly lungs so when i see him hes always so helpful and brill with the advice, a couple of things he,s said to me in the past is to sleep propped up or sitting up and to try steaming which i did when i had a chest infection and fluid on my lung , some people dont like it but my Dr recommended it and it really worked for me and cleared my airways i used a few drops of olbas oil its not as messy as vicks i did this morning,afternoon and evenings until i was better.Hope your feeling better soon and best of luck xx

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Thanks for the reply hun. I actually did the steaming with albus oil but only once and then forgot about it. I will definitely start it again now. Morning noon and night to see if it makes a difference.. thanks for the advice xx

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fingers crossed it helps because there,s nothing worse then struggling to breathe.Joining this site really helped me cos until then i felt so alone and nobody understood.Let me know how you get on xx

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I'm glad that the site is helping you. Everyone is in the same position to some extent. I only came across it a couple of days ago and I got a lot of really good feedback and everyone seems really helpful. I will definitely keep you updated. Thanks again for the advice xx

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brilliant site with lovely people good luck xx

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