My productive cough suddenly stopped. - British Lung Foun...

British Lung Foundation

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My productive cough suddenly stopped.


I've been diagnosed with Bronchiectasis for a few years now, coughing constantly with lots of mucus each day.

In February I slipped on ice and fractured my wrist: it was a nasty break and needed surgery to insert plate, pins and screws. However while in hospital, and for the next 4 months my daily symptoms just suddenly vanished and have no idea why. So was wondering if there is such a thing as temporary remission for this condition. Friends and family have been commenting as I always seemed to cough more particularly when eating, laughing or talking on the phone and now I dont!

However, just recently have started to cough again, but only slightly, nothing like before and have been going over what could have caused this welcome change. While awaiting surgery it was cancelled three times so was practically fasting for 4 days, the temp was constant at about 23 degrees ( which I hated) and nose and lips were dried up with face like a tomato, because new hospital with windows unable to be opened. Inclined bed position the whole time too.

Therefore, it's been going through my mind, could this improvement been due to the long fast, the temperature of the room, the angled bed, all of them, or none of them. Aware there is no cure, only manageable but if what I've experienced could be due to any of the above I'll definitely replicate it at home as the difference is amazing and feel the healthiest I've been for years, and just keep hoping it continues. Had this ever happened to anyone else?

17 Replies

Hello Titian8. Bronchiectasis is a funny thing. The exacerbations come and go. It can be better in the summer or warmer climates but not always. The mystery is that you seemed to have an almost permanent productive exacerbation which cleared up totally in hospital for no apparant reason. Did you have any antibiotic treatment for your wrist whilst you were in hospital? This is the only thing that I can think may have cleared up the bugs in your chest. Maybe check up on that and if so, it may be that if your cough and sputum starts coming back, which is the usual cycle with bronch, that may be the antibiotic for your doc to give you. Do you have a bronchiectasis specialist? We all need one as bronch is so particular. NOT a general respiratory specialist because they usually know very little about bronch and GPs know even less. Look for for a bronch specialist in your area. They are usually at large teaching hospitals. Take the name to your GP and insist on a referral. Don’t take no for an answer.

If you start to cough when talking or eating when not in an exacerbation bad enough to require an antibiotic it is a sign that you have not cleared the secretions from your lungs. I know it is tedious and boring but it is what stops the bugs having a party and keeps us well. It also makes life more comfortable.

It’s great that you have been feeling so well. I hope that you find the key to keeping it that way.

Titian8 in reply to Hidden

Thanks for your reply Littlepom, much appreciated.

I didn't have any antibiotics while in hospital, only painkillers (I'm one of those people who question the need for everything). In fact haven't taken any antibiotics before or since my accident so it does also remain a mystery to me.

Hidden in reply to Titian8

Was your bronch diagnosed by ct scan and bronch specialist? It may be that you don’t have bronch but as hypercat suggested, react to something which produces mucus and the absence of this in the hospital stopped the production.

Titian8 in reply to Hidden

Yes I have a bronch specialist and was diagnosed with Bronchiectasis, followed by respiratory physio after a ct scan.

Marguerite2013 in reply to Hidden

Thanks for this info littlepom... I have been struggling with GPs and 2 respiratory medicine consultants now for 8 years, but to no avail. I was initially diagnosed as having COPD but my spirometry was normal (at the time of diagnosis and again about 3 months ago).. I hope you don't mind my copying over an extract from your earlier msg, so that everybody can see it, as I believe this to be true, having been messed around for 8 years!

"We all need one as bronch is so particular. NOT a general respiratory specialist because they usually know very little about bronch and GPs know even less."

Thanks ever so much.....Margueritex

Hidden in reply to Titian8

Just another little thought. During surgery they can give a high dose antibiotic injection to protect against infection. You probably wouldn’t have been told about this.

Titian8 in reply to Hidden

That's very interesting, and something I was unaware of, and you are correct because if they did inject an antibiotic during surgery it was unknown to me.

I'll make further enquiries to see if that was the case. Many thanks for this fresh idea, one that wouldn't have occurred to me.

Hidden in reply to Titian8

Just a thought. Do let us know if you get to the bottom of it

Hi maybe you are intolerant of dust mites and there were less in the hospital than your home? If you don't already try washing all your bedding, nightclothes, towels in at least 60 degrees as it has to be that high to kill them. x

Titian8 in reply to hypercat54

That's something to consider Hypercat as usually I do a fast wash at 40 degrees rather than a cycle lasting 90 mins at 60.

However, I was only in the hospital for 4 days at start of February and still feel this improvement at home these past months, having done nothing else differently.

Really interesting, and all the replies too. Looking forward to hearing more!

Hi Titian8, I think that perhaps it was the antibiotic that added to your temporary recovery from the bronchiectasis - but also, perhaps eating nothing also did? I have found with myself that the productive cough is a lot worse after eating - and am puzzled as to whether my cough is influenced by a diagnosis of LPR (laparoscopic-pharyngeal reflux).. Please keep us informed about your condition? I never have any loss of "productive coughing" even when on antibiotics - so am having a further CT scan in the near future.

Hi Marguerite2013,

I'm not entirely sure I was given an antibiotic during surgery and can't confirm that yet. I would have hoped to have been informed beforehand that was a likelihood and there was no mention, but I do appreciate that may have been the case following Littlepom's comments which I had no idea sometimes happens.

However, I've recently gone over every aspect and, on reflection, the sudden improvement happened before any surgery which was delayed 3 times/3days. From day 1 all I had was an ibuprofen and a paracetamol every 4 hours. I'm a big fan of Dr. Michael Mosley, read all his books and tv/science programmes and therefore not discounting the benefits of fasting he advocates. As never knew exactly when surgery would happen it was almost a complete fast, water only, for nearly 3+ days, which to my amazement was relatively easy. So the improvement happened from the day of the fracture, not from the day of surgery and had continued. It remains a bit of a mystery to me, others comment on it who have known me for years.

As 6 months have passed i still cough very little, nothing like before. Who knows perhaps this is just a lovely temporary absence of the condition and it will return as before, but for now am still enjoying the "silence'.

I know Bronchiectasis is manageable, not curable and just want to reiterate that am totally not saying fasting is the way to go, only relating my personal experience which perhaps could revert back to same as before just as suddenly- who knows?

Hi Titian8 - I am not too clued up on bronchiectasis myself, as I was misdiagnosed as having chronic bronchitis and asthma and given the wrong meds (Seretide 500), as I do not have asthma and only realised this when I became involved with a guy who has got asthma. Perhaps you have "mild" bronchiectasis - but if you want to be certain about whether or not you were given antibiotics at or even prior to surgery, you can always write to "The Medical Records Officer, XYZ Hospital........... and request a copy of your surgical notes which, "according to the Data Protection Act 1998" you are entitled to, if you pay their reasonable fee (usually about £20 - £30) for the photocopying etc. However, if they injected antibiotics, they would have had to ask you if you were allergic to penicillin or any other antibiotics like erythromycin - so I am inclined to think that they did not inject any antibiotics without consulting you first.

However, if your bronch is manageable now, and even after 6 months you cough just a little, I would carry on doing what you do now - as clearly you are doing something right. Go out and enjoy yourself! If you don't mind fasting from time to time, that is also not a bad idea... Don't worry, be happy - and I wish you all the best. Take care out there, Marguerite~

Hello again Marguerite,

Apologies for late reply. Just been diagnosed with osteoporosis so my attention has been on that lately.

Liked what you said "Don't Worry, Be Happy". Hey wouldn't that be a great title for a song😁.

Well I sure spoke too soon, silence no longer and coughing and gunk has returned.

I was travelling in a packed bus and started to feel unwell soon afterwards, so that may have been the source?

Thought it only a summer cold but alas it progressed to an infection. That's what I get for being way too optimistic, so that's a bummer!

Anyway I hope you are feeling better and you get a good result from the ct scan. All the best.

Hi Titian8... Sorry to hear you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis: I have had no experience of this (yet) but good luck in getting that improved.

It occurred to me (re your 4-day fast, which left you symptom free of bronchiectasis for several months) that perhaps you are eating something to which you are allergic as that would explain your being symptom-free for several months after the fast. I read on one or another forum also that a woman who went vegan for a month was symptom-free for several months afterwards?! All we can do is to try everything that may help. Obviously all the delicious foodstuffs, chox, cake, sugar, toasted cheese etc. should be ruled out in any case! :(

I had my ct scan last week, but do not have the results as yet, for which I will be seeing the Resp Consultant at a local hospital on Friday, who said she would switch me to their BronchX consultant at that hospital should be scan reveal further damage to my lungs. Even if there is not further damage, I will ask her to switch me to him in any case... I need to have the proper treatment and am on nothing at the moment other than multivitamins!

All the best,


Hopefully you will never get osteoporosis Marguerite, I'd definitely take steps to prevent it while you are young.

I'm a veggie and once tried a vegan diet but only lasted 10 days, I missed real cheese and other food bigtime, but you may be right about an allergy. I keep saying am once again going on a 3 day fast, but the spirit is weak! So easy in hospital with no distractions.

I sure hope the result of your c.t. scan shows no further lung damage, that would be the best of all outcomes but definitely need to see a specialist who can look into your lung issues in greater depth: multivitamins just aren't enough. If the consultant refers you to a respiratory physio they will teach you the Active Cycle of Breathing which is meant to get rid of mucus and thereby stop the coughing. It didn't work too well for me but know it does for others. Someone on here suggested Bubble Pep method and I found that easier as we are all different in what works best for us. Fingers crossed for your next appointment.

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