Avoiding exacerbations when having a ... - British Lung Foun...

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Avoiding exacerbations when having a child

Hi everyone, I'm new on this forum but have been on the Bronchiectasis one for a while.

I was wondering how those of you with children manage with your lung conditions. Do you find you have more exacerbations than before you had children?

My wife and I want to have a child but we are concerned that it could cause an increase of exacerbations which has a longer-term impact as a result of the exhaustion that parents generally seem to have, and the germs that kids pick up and pass onto their parents.

I have pseudomonas and generally get chest infections when I have a cold, or if I'm really busy and tired and so don't manage my condition as thoroughly as I should.

I try and manage my condition by avoiding ill people, working from home twice a week, eating healthily, exercising regularly and huffing daily. However, if we have a baby that routine will become more difficult to manage.

Have any of you been in this situation? How did you manage?

Thank you all in advance :)

13 Replies

For goodness sake Guy,if i were young again and my wife and i wanted to start a family i wouldn't worry if i had lost all of my limbs and was on a life support machine,go ahead and create that child,love it to bits and worry about the consequences afterwards,many people with respiratory illnesses have children.

Best wishes for you.wife and potential new addition in your life.

Ski's and Scruff's


Hello Guy_Incognito

I am 69 and have had extensive bronch since I was 3 years old. I carried and gave birth to two children ( escaping in a tank from war torn Lebanon with a 3 year old when pregnant with the second). I brought them both up and now they have given me 5 grandchildren. I have been living a normal life with pseudomonas since 1986 and am still giving it plenty. I recently went up the Rockies with my family and paddled down the glacier park river. At home I am a guide at a heritage attraction. Everything we do in life exposes us to germs and it is other peoples’ viruses which tend to set off bronch exacerbations. There are lots of discussions on here as to

Protective measures to take so I won’t go into these.

I think that the secret to your dilemma is in your post.

You say that having a baby in the house would make the daily management routine more difficult. Well actually, it will just mean that you have to be even more scrupulous than you are at present in clearing your lungs, exercising and eating well. Do your walking pushing the pram. It’s a balancing act. My husband wasn’t about for the majority of my childrens’ babyhoods because of the travelling that he had to do so I just got on with it on my own.

Don’t let this condition stop you from fulfilling the desires of yourself and your wife. It really doesn’t have to.


Thank you Littlepom and skischool :) Very inspiring! I was just concerned that my wife would have to do most of the work when I'm ill, which I know will happen sometimes, but obviously I don't want that to happen too often. I'm worried more for her than myself as I don't want her to be left, quite literally, holding the baby.


Come on - I had one of those old fashioned marriages where my husband never changed a nappy, fed them or even looked after them. As I said, I had to get on with it, bronch or not. It is just as likely that your wife will leave you ‘holding the baby’ when she catches the inevitable winter virus. You are a very caring chap and I am sure that together you will make a great team and enjoy a wonderful family together.

I would suggest that you both get the flu jab. You should be entitled to one on the NHS with bronch and your wife can get one from a chemist or one of the big supermarkets. They don’t cost much.


You have some inspiring and positive responses. However, everyone is different and you are right to weigh up the pros and cons carefully, particularly as it involves a third person. Your bronchiectasis could well be different in its severity to others. Some have it mildly and are not too troubled whilst others have more severe symptoms. Everyone is different.

Your wife will need to consider that she might have to take the lions share of childcare at times, particularly when you are not well. Is she prepared for this? As well as caring for the little one/s she will maybe need to help you when you have infection.

As a carer of someone with severe asthma/bronchiectasis (pseudomonas included) I can say that I have had to take on increasing responsibility over the years and it is extremely taxing but I am old and that makes a difference. He has had (severe) asthma for many years, prior to bronchiectasis. When I look back I can see what a huge negative impact it has had on our lives, particularly when compared to contemporaries who are still well and enjoying their retirement. I don’t resent it but it saddens me because I suppose our lives would have been so much better without this blight.

Is your wife strong and healthy herself? Would she have to work or could she be a stay at home mum? Do you have extended family close by and would they be willing to support you? Would it be helpful to talk to your doctor about this? It is true that when children start nursery school they tend to pick up infections on a regular basis. Hopefully you can avoid transmission with good hygiene but it’s not a given thing.

It’s good to be positive but also realistic about how you will cope so a candid discussion is certainly called for and plans made for how you are going to manage, particularly when you are poorly. As long as you are both prepared for the difficulties ahead and are ready to face them you will have a good start.


I thought that you would like to know that I work with a gentleman who is now in his 60s like me and has had extensive bronch all of his life. He worked full time until he recently retired and joined us as a volunteer guide. He and his wife have raised three children. I have met her and coping with his condition whilst raising those children was a non issue to her as he has been in charge of it. His exacerbations amounted to no more than the viruses which had equally laid her low. This is the important thing. 90% of it is self management. 10% is having a good bronchiectasis specialist- NOT a general respiratory consultant, and the right antibiotic therapy. Do not rely on your GP to decide which abs and in which delivery system to give you. They know almost nothing about bronch and need to be advised by the bronch specialist. If you don’t have a bronch specialist find one now in your area. They are usually at large teaching hospitals. Take the name to your GP and insist on a referral. Form a good relationship with the specialist’s secretary and in this way you have access to the consultant’s advice if things get difficult.

Treatments for bronch and management tecniques have come on so much and there is no reason why you cannot lead as normal a life as your ‘well’ friends if you get in control of it and stay there. I see many people at my clinic who have been going there since the early 1980s. They have had and are still having very fulfilling lives. Most of them of both genders have children and grandchildren.Don’t be scared. In spite of the fact that any new registrar who sees my scans expects to see me in a wheelchair, not bouncing in as I do, I am generally a lot more well than my ‘normal’ friends who are now falling apart with knackered hips, type 2 diabetes - you name it.

Unfortunately, due to a combination of factors unique to them, some people have not done as well. This was usually apparant from the onset of the condition and these are people who are now older. It is very hard on their carers but believe me, in terms of those who live with bronchiectasis it is unusual. Especially when the condition is managed properly.

You are young, you have your life in front of you. Don’t let the fear of living with this condition hold you back.


I have stage 4 COPD, so don’t know exactly what you’re going through but my children were still school age (so prone to picking up germs!) when I was diagnosed with stage 4. You are right to think carefully and it’s so nice that you’re considering the extra work which might fall to your wife but I really don’t think you should worry too much. My mum raised two children and worked full time, while my dad was away most of the time in the merchant navy back in the ‘sixties and with my two children, my husband did very little, even when I became ill.

As long as your wife is happy that at times she may have to do more with a child than if you were fighting fit, everything will be fine. Many parents manage full time permanently on their own. Avoiding infection was an issue for me too but as someone else mentioned, if you take that very seriously (which I expect you already do) you will minimise risk.

Lung disease robs us of so much, it would be a terrible shame if you and your wife denied yourself the joy of having a family. It would take planning and organisation but it is doable and I do hope you decide to go ahead. Someone so thoughtful and considerate would make a brilliant dad I think!

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Thank you Bella, Littlepom and SaraCat for sharing your experiences in such a detailed way. It has helped me enormously and it's great being able to talk to people with similar issues.

Clearly there's no right or wrong answer to this. It depends on many factors, not least how good/bad my condition is. Thankfully I seem to be managing it fairly well at the moment and my well is healthy.

Thank you all :)

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Hello Guy. Nice to meet you but sorry to hear about your diagnosis. I’m a 41 year old single parent to an 8 year old and I have had lifelong moderate to severe asthma and was diagnosed with COPD last year (mild).

Unlike you, I was unaware of my (almost certainly already existent) COPD prior to having my son but I understand your concern about coughs and colds. I can say from experience that yes, any child will certainly be a constant source of illnesses, particularly once they start nursery or education, but the effects of this on you can be mitigated to some degree by keeping healthy and good hygiene. It’s also sensible to build up a good support system so you can have people step in to help when you’re very ill and struggling. People are generally more than happy to help if you are clear what you need from them.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t worry about getting chest infections from my son but I’d rather live with that worry and take the chance a million times over than not have my child at all. At the time of my diagnosis I was certain I was going to die within the next few years and leave my son motherless but I can now see that that’s nonsense and my COPD is unlikely to have a major disabling effect on my life until after my child reaches adulthood (if at all perhaps). Life is about trade-offs and compromises for all sorts of reasons and you’re unlucky to have the added factor of chronic illness to consider.

You do certainly sound like a level-headed, loving and considerate man and I wish you all the very best in your decision. I’m sure that between you, you and partner can find the right solution for all of you. Please do ask if you have any other questions that you think I or anyone else could help with. Xx

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Thank you Artichokes for sharing your experience, and you're right about having a support system in place. I guess while there is a risk, the issue isn't insurmountable :)


Great reply Artichokes, spoken from experience. Children can be a real blessing and a motivator.

Guy_Incognito - before retirement I had a demanding job and was the breadwinner. He wasn’t as ill then as now but at times I used to find being a carer too very challenging, mostly when I had been awake for much of the night due to exacerbations. The asthma was always there in the background and was unpredictable so it was unsettling. It created a degree of anxiety that possibly only people with chronic illness (and their carers) can understand. This is why I mentioned the issue of your wife being a stay at home mum. If she didn’t have to return to paid employment it could considerably lessen the stress on you both because she would have more time to care for the child and to support you as needed.


Thank you Bella :) I guess if I did struggle with a child and full-time job I'd consider going part-time or take a job more local. I already work from home twice a week (including today) which helps massively, and travel into London 3 times a week. I'm sorry to hear you've found it difficult at times and it sounds like you've been very patient and loving. I'm 39 at the moment and am doing everything I can to avoid infections to prevent the condition getting worse over time. It's a daily battle. I will speak to my specialist about my concerns as well. Really appreciate your responses :)

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We are all different and there is no right or wrong answer. I suppose that I just wanted to offer a perspective on the carer’s role. You are obviously very sensible and already thinking of the future and how you can make this work. I wish you all the best, whatever decision you make. Goes without saying that baby news and pics would be appreciated. LOL


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