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British Lung Foundation
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Pneumonia then bronchietasis when can I exercise?

I've recently been diagnosed with mild bronchietasis but it feels anything but. I had pneumonia and was antibiotics for a month and then managed to work but got another chest infection and have been off for 2 weeks. The pain in my lungs is really intense and I'm really tired. I can't sleep at the moment because of the pain. Anyway, I just feel really frustrated as I am normally very active but have not been able to do any exercise since the pneumonia as my lungs hurt so much. I was told that I can keep well by exercising but I'm worried that if I can't even get to that level of fitness, I will get ill again. I'm also scared I won't be able to work. Before I was ill, I had qualified as a yoga teacher and also taught English abroad. I've been told I have to live in the UK for 2 years, I currently can't do any yoga beyond breathing exercises and am a little worried re work prospects as I taught Primary supply work, which exposed me to a lot of germs. My appointment with the physio isn't until October. I feel like I don't know enough about the condition to exercise and my regular doctor told me I just have to be patient. Thanks for listening

14 Replies


Don't despair. I have bronchiectasis and used to get lots of infections but have been free of them for 12 months or more. This I understand is the pattern with Bronchiectasis. You also have to realize that pneumonia is a very significant infection so feeling tired and exhausted afterwards is very normal. Be kind to yourself and also be patient with yourself!


Thank you. I hope this is temporary. I guess not knowing much about the condition is scary and I will hopefully get more info.


Hi LolaEs It sounds to me as if the pneumonia infection hasn't cleared up properly or it has started off an exacerbation of your bronchiectasis. You may need more antibiotics so I do recommend getting back to whoever was looking after you. If you have a bronch specialist consultant contact their secretary.

I have had bronch for 64 years and lead a normal life, dealing with exacerbations if and when. In Feb 2015 I got an empyema on the back of a community aquired pneumonia. I had 4 weeks IV then it started off my bronch so another 4 weeks. It took months to feel right.

You won't feel like doing anything at all whilst you have an active infection. The important thing is to keep emptying your lungs. Also, try to walk around the house and maybe up and down the garden. Be kind to yourself and do make sure that you are getting the right treatment.

Doctors are very good at telling us what to do when we are the best at knowing our bodies. When I was achild I was told never to go abroad ( why? people all over the world have bronchiectasis) and definitely never to have children. I travelled all over the world, had my first baby in Beirut, had another baby here after we left there as refugees and I have just booked my second worls cruise. I went on a med cruise five months after my pneumonia in 2015. I have a very supportive consultant and make sure that I take all of my meds.

You will know when you have gained enough strength to exercise.

But first you need to get better. Many doctors are ignorant of bronchiectasis and do not realise that the damage in our lungs and the accumulation of fluid there makes it harder to clear infection and more likely that infection can start up again. I'm afraid that as a bronch I you will find that you have to be very pro active and vociferous in getting the treatment you need.

If you don't have a bronchiectasis specialist you need to get under the care of one.

Hope that helped a bit and that you begin to feel better soon.


Thank you for your reply. Your story is inspirational and you have given me hope. Having always been a bit of a free spirit, this diagnosis and the fact I have to stay here is getting me down. This does not sound very Zen but I was all set to teach English and yoga in Spain and 2 years feels like a life sentence. I'm grateful for the level of care here and I think the reason I have to be here is that the condition needs to be monitored but I can't help feeling that my breathing and quality of life would be better in Southern Spain. Before I got pneumonia, I was working 3 jobs to pay my rent, which ultimately made me ill, and I feel that I would have a better quality of life abroad, providing I don't get ill.

Anyway, I will hopefully be referred back to the hospital where I might get some more information. I am at the end of a 2 week course of antibiotics and whilst my chest has cleared, I am in pain and still tired.

Thanks again. I am only 41 and feel really restricted.


I am sure that the climate in Southern Spain will suit you better than here, in winter especially. I always try to get away to the Caribbean after Christmas. You need to get over this latest illness and become confident in dealing with your bronchiectasis. Right now you are too poorly and worn out to imagine that you can make your own decisions.

You will need to be able to clear your chest everyday and know how to recognise when an exacerbation is starting up. Knowing which antibiotic is most helpful is useful. As I said, I lived all over the world and I sourced my antibiotics when I needed them. They have good lung consultants in Spain and you may even find a bronch specialist to look after you. have a look on the internet. You will know yourself when you are well enough and confident enough to slip the binds that tie us to this country and the NHS. If I had done what my doctors told me I would have had no life and no children. Go for it girl, just look after yourself by managing your condition and not working so hard that you wear yourself out.xx


Thank you. I really want to be free again but what you say makes sense. I have spent two days waiting to be referred to hospital partly because I gave the wrong impression of my current state. This was because I didn't realise how ill I am and also because I wanted to go back to work. By over emphasising my desire to go back to work, the message given to the consultant was that I was not that ill. I spoke to a nurse from BLF in desperation and she outlined to me that I really need to be able to clear my chest and that my oxygen levels last week were dangerously low. I see the consultant tomorrow and am hoping he'll give me the all clear to go on holiday as she said I might not be able to fly..It gets worse. I also hope I'll be well enough to work soon.


The advice of the BLF nurse was really good. The thing to remember is that you are going through an acute illness at the moment. When you have come through this daily life with bronchiectasis is not so bad as llong as you manage your condition and have the support of a good consultant. I fly and my oxygen level with stable extensive bronchiectasis is usually 97. Take your time, get better then plan your marvellous future.


Thank you for your support. That puts things into perspective. Hopefully I'll get good news from the consultant or at least more information. Good night


Sorry to hear to have been so unwell. It can take up to three months or so to recover from pneumonia. Lungs themselves don't cause pain but the intercostal muscles can become sore

Self care is important, so adequate rest and good nutrition are important. Look after your immune system.

Exercise gently for now, yoga pawanmukhtaasana or similar can he done whilst in a chair, Yoga Nidra can be very healing, gentle pranayama and when you feel ready Yin yoga can also help. Yin practice will not stress your lungs.

Hope you feel better soon. 🙏🏻


Hi Polly, thank you for your reply.

I find alternate nostril breathing helpful and other pranyama exercises helpful. Today I did some yoga nidra and it was calming. I am also very interested in mindfulness and am going to get a book on dealing with chronic illness,as I can see I alternate between denial and fighting it.

Other than that, I am resting and eating well, even though I often don't feel hungry ( read that that is a symptom).

I find that I want to see friends but get tired easily and also that some people have just drifted away. As someone who was active, I don't want to be defined as ill so i often play things down. I am trying to be present but keep yearning for my old life instead of this one where I feel quite isolated and worried about the future.

Sorry for the outpouring, I really am struggling with this and just want to be able to do things instead of being stuck in bed.


No apologies for 'outpouring ' that's what we are here for.

Pleased that you find Yoga Nidra and Nadi Shodana ( good for the vagus nerve) helpful and when you are feeling better then gentle Kapalabhati helps too.

Mindfulness can be a real help and stops the mind from wandering.. calms everything down ....

I have found this book really helpful! It was recommended to me by a fellow yogi who has recently had a double lung transplant, she is doing really great, am so thrilled for her, it is wonderful.


Pm me if you would like to chat more.

Much love...

P x

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Hi PollyP I'm afraid that the notion that lungs do not give pain is old fashioned and discredited. I have had bronchiectasis all of my life and can tell you that the first sign of an exacerbation is deep routed and heavy pain.This is similar to the pain experienced in pneumonia. This is different to the sharp pain of pleurisy when the pleural membranes rub against each other or the muscular pain which can come from lots of coughing. I argued for years with my consultant about this until a large and long study was done amongst bronchiectasis patients. In 1986 he backed down and apologised because the study proved that lung patients do get pain in their lungs. Now the charts filled in at my hospital ask us how much pain we experience.

Having said that I think that your yoga ideas are great and can only be of help to us.


Oh thanks so much for updating me, it is good to know that...

Really helpful of you to let me know.

P x


Hi.I'm guys.I know I am joining this conversation at a late date,however I really want to share my situation.I am a 46yr old,male, single parent,who was self employed up until 4th December 2018.On that date I collapsed while walking into the village where I live.I struggled to my feet in severe pain.Finally I got home.I refused an ambulance (typical bloke! ).Everybody and health professional decided that I was having a heart attack. I was not and described that my lungs felt like they were being torn apart from the inside.

After many visits to my GP I was finally diagnosed with lower global pneumonia. My experience is that throughout this period(December 17'-March18') I was still suffering the same extreme pain.All through this period I was consuming daily ,8 paracetamol, 8 tramadol,9 Gabapentine, 5 amatrypteline,1 metrazipen,and they didn't work.Of course lung cancer was mentioned and eventually excluded by means of ,a hard fought for ,MRI scan.

My working diagnosis is of neuropathic pain in the left lung.My GP is mystified by the lingering pain,but I know that my lungs are permanently damaged. When doctors can't cure you they become disgruntled and in my case quite noticeably angered by the lack of improvement.I'm selling my house and moving to warmer climbs.The North of England and my native Ireland do not fit into this category. I'm looking at southern Italy.Pneumonia kills and I've had a lucky escape.

Regards,Dave G.


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