Reocurring chest infections - British Lung Foun...

British Lung Foundation
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Reocurring chest infections


Hi all I'm new to this site but have found you after hours of looking up my symptoms.

I had 4 chest infections last year one being pluerisy the infections were spread out throughout the year so didn't really think much of it.

I also work with preschool age children so I'm always around coughs, sneezes e.c.t.

So far this year I'm on my third infection all x rays have come back clear with my bloods showing higher white blood cells so have to get these repeated.

The last infection and this infection are practically exactly the same starts with a vicious dry persistent cough that is so strong that I pill my chest and back muscles.

Drs don't know what is causing the infection and so far have been treated with asthma pumps (pink and blue), oral steroids x2, 3 lots of different antibiotics.

I have given sputum tests after asking and have used private health care to see a respiratory specialist at the end of the month.

Sorry for the long post but I feel at my wits end 😢


22 Replies

I hope you get things sorted out. Being at your wits end seems about par for the course if you have a respiratory illness xx

I'm so shocked how many people are in the same position. The Dr actually told me today she hasn't got a clue what is making me ill !! Luckily I do have the specialist appointment which will hopefully give me answers,my mum has had lung cancer twice so even with clear x rays, in my head I can't help but think of the worse.

I've worked in my current job for nearly 15 years with a sick free record but the last 2 years has been a nightmare which also adds to the worry.

Hi SW and welcome

An xray will show clearly if you have an infection or not and will show up struff like shadows but a ct scan would give any definative diagnosis.

Hope your consultation goes well.

Let us know how you get on.

love cx

Thanks for reply, I've had 3 chest xrays this year but all have come back clear. I've been ill for 12 weeks now cough constant, lethargic, having repeated bloods, wheezing, clicking when lying down, nose full of green mucus and green phlegm off and on. But more painful at the moment is the pain in my chest and back which I've been told is muscular that's all I've done is cry tonight with my poor teenage daughter rubbing my back 😢😢 fingers crossed it goes soon xx

Good morning Swilliams79, welcome to the site, sorry to hear you are going through such a bad time. You really need a diagnosis so the proper treatment can be given, however as lung conditions are numerous it takes time to get a definate diagnosis, if cancer were suspected you would be given a quicker appointment. But understand why you are so worried, respiratory illness has long queues for tests ect so try and get as much out of your private consultation as possible. On the positive side some infections can take a long time to resolve and while your immunity is low another can attack your system. I hope the outcome for you is not cancer as you suspect, Every best wish for a good outcome.

I saw an osteopath about my sore ribs and he showed me how to massage them and release my spasming diaphragm to improve things.


Let's hope that the private doc gives you a ct scan. Xrays show up ongoing infections but not conditions such as bronchiectasis which result in deep seated infections and need specialised ongoing treatment. I am continually frustrated at the ignorance of GPs when it comes to lung conditions and their prevailing refusal to admit it and refer people to those who are the experts. Good luck. I hope that you get sorted out.

in reply to Hidden

Absolutely correct. We should not expect general doctors to be lung experts but it seems that some believe they are or are too tight on funding to admit their lack of knowledge. Yes, IME (history of incorrectly suspected lung cancer then successfully treated malt lung lymphoma then bronchiectasis which has settled into a moderate state - touch wood) XRays are a very limited tool; they will detect nothing alone and provide some corroboration of a few but not all infections eg pneumonia.

Sputum tests are not the panacea for everyone either. Docs have given up doing that on me as they show nothing specific.

Low white blood cell result might suggest a slight impairment of immune system so get stuck into the stuff like vitamin C (Internet search on immu e boosting foods) to give your system a boost and get lots of rest/sleep and regular exercise.

Azithromicin thrice a week has brought my infection count down to zero over the last 6 -12 months (that plus good food, daily exercise and religious but not overzealous coughing up routines), but I still get boughts of tiredness, temperature control issues and occasional wheezes and breathlessness so clearly there's stuff still going on for my immune system to fight.

Next stop is to gird up confidence and see if I can wean myself off the antibiotics by substituting (crazy expensive) Manuka honey.

in reply to santisuk

sounds like classic bronchiectasis to a lifelong bronch like me santisuk. After years and years of 'good' advice and recommendations of echinacea, vit C, honey - you name it, I'm afraid it comes down to the right antibiotic in a large enough dose for long enough, delivered in the most appropriate way, High dose Vitamin D ( haven't had a cold or an exacerbation since taking it) scrupulous mucus emptying, regular exercise to one's own capacity, staying away from smoke and other people's germs and a good relationship with a bronch specialist. A cooperative GP helps. The rest is black magic gobbledegook!

I am also sceptical of lab sputum tests. Mine comes back negative or pseudomonas resistant to cipro. However, my consultant and I both know that cipro works against the pseudo in my body when It doen't work on the plate in the lab.

in reply to Hidden

Agree entirely! I'm also a sceptic, but I'll give it a go for a couple of months. I don't have pseudomonas (yet). Have to be partly self-supporting living in Thailand (also relying on this and the other main UK sufferer forum) but I come back to Papworth UK as a private patient for an annual progress check.

in reply to santisuk

Dont bye manuka honey bye raw local honey just as good but alot less exspencive. And it hasent traveld half way round the world ☺🐝🍯

in reply to corriena

Quarter way round the world from where I live but I get the point. The internet analysis is that local honeys dont have the same antibi impact as high strength (20+) Manuka. Time will tell if that's just marketing hype!!!

in reply to santisuk

Essential oils can be anti-viral, anti-bacterial and more, I have been treating myself for lyme disease with them and they have helped. I recently came down with a bug and put them on my chest and throat, I also took high dose Garlic... chop or crush a clove, leave in the air for a short while.. this increases the effectiveness, add to olive oil and take with food as can be harsh on stomach.. try 2=3 times a day.

Essential oils need adding to a carrier oil and rubbing on soles of feet. Read up on them, they are part of my tool kit.

I was told 5 years ago I have severe COPD.. I try to stay as active as possible though I do experience myself deteriorate.

Ct scan and a good consultant.took me years to diagnosed with bronchiectasis.good luck x


Hi & welcome to the site. Most of us have had your problems, the respiratory specialist may wish to look into your symptoms and order a CT scan, this will pick up all sorts of things from the specialist should be able to diagnose. Meanwhile try your GP for a tablet named carbocisteine, this should begin to move the mucus that may be holding the infections. It means you initially cough more but it is productive and gets the mucus out of the lungs.

It's done me well and I have less infections at least at this time of the year, it may not suit everyone.


I'm so glad I found this informative site, Thanks for all your replies xx

Your post reads same as myself only I have had 6 chest infections also on 2 occasions ended up in A&E, I insisted on a CT scan which has finally come back with a report -bronchiectasis and over the last 6 months I have been receiving treatment for asthma using pre-venters inhalers, so my comment to you would be insist on a CT scan which will show what may be causing your infections

You must be relieved to have answers, I discovered this illness after googling my symptoms something I shouldn't be doing according to my Dr 🙈 I say my Dr but it's whoever I see on the day which I find doesn't help!! And yes a CT scan does seem the way to go , I'm lucky to have private health care through my husband's job and awaiting my appointment.

It wasn't until this infection that I knew something wasn't right I've always put it down to work around young children and having a weak immune system, but I just want answers the same as many people on here, I feel that people including health professionals just aren't taking me serious.

One Dr looked through my records and said "I can see your on 10mg of citalopram? You had this cough last year and your chest x rays are clear" obviously he thought I was an anxious patient with just a cough!!! If bloody only!!

Anyway I hope your on the road to recovery.

Agre with the carbocystene comment. In my case acetlylsteine but same thing. I also take Symbicort inhalations and a bronchodilator (halving the dose when my lungs are performing particularly well). I'm in relatively good shape when I read about the trials of other sufferers so hope I can make it last.

Have you submitted sputum samples to your GP? I'm surprised the virus cannot be identified by the sputum samples. Hope you can get it sorted.

check your immune system is not low ask for a blood test

I did a sputum test Monday and awaiting results but was told not to hold out much hope of them showing anything? I've also got to do it for 3 days which ends tomorrow so hopefully it will come back with something.

Yes also had bloods and showing high count in white blood cells so have to get them repeated after tomorrow xx

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