Exacerbation. What can I do ?

I had an infection a couple of days ago which caused me to get breathless. My doctor gave me Prednisolone and antibiotics which usually clear it up. I have finished both of them and I think I still have the infection as I still can only walk 2 or 3 steps before getting puffed out and have to stop and rest. I can normally walk quite a long way before resting. When I get like this my inhalers don't seem to help at all. Has anyone else had this sort of experience ?

15 Replies

  • How long were the courses for? Depending on the infection you might need more meds. Go back to your GP if you are still feeling unwell.

  • Hi, yes this has happened to my husband - and the doctor has changed the antibiotics and started him on another course. Sometimes this has continued for a few months - sorry. When I was at the COPD forum last week, the nurses were advising that if you the anti-biotics and steriods were not working after about 48 hours that you should go back to the see the doctor. Would suggest you make an appt and go back the sooner the better, it can make you feel so ill. Wishing you a speedy recovery. TAD xx

  • I did call the surgery before I wrote the question and it seems my doctor is away for a few days so I am waiting for the duty doctor to call. I will put these points to him. Antibiotics were for 7 days and the others for 5 days which normally clear it.

    I've always worked outside and have very rarely had any chest infections. Why am I getting them so often now ? I still have the same immune system I had before I gave up smoking and before I was diagnosed with COPD so why isn't my body fighting and beating it ?

  • I have had exactly the same thing, you must go back to doctors and if you are coughing up yellow or green ask for a sputum test so they can see what 'bug' it is, then they can give you the right antibiotics to treat the infection.

    Also, when i am more breathless than usual my doc said to double up my inhalers (terbutaline and Seretide) but NOT my Spiriva so instead of twice a day I use them 4 times a day, maybe you could check this out as well.

    Hope you will soon bee on the mend

    take care


  • Thanks for all of your suggestions. I have just got some more Pred so I'll see how I get on with them this afternoon. I can normally get on with things but when I can only walk a couple of paces without getting breathless I do find it frustrating.

  • You need to go back to the doc if you still have an infection after your course of treatment, don't delay it will take longer to recover if you neglect this.

    For help in managing your lung condition and to help you avoid repeated lung infections attending a pulmonary rehabilitation course will help, alternative do ask BLF for their information of living with a lung condition and avoiding infections.


  • I have an appointment in early August with the Respiratory Medicine department at my local hospital ( nearest appointment they have ) and will be mentioning rehab to them. Hopefully I will start getting somewhere now I have changed my doctor. It's taken over a year to get this far. I just feel all this stuff should have been done when I was first diagnosed.

  • I have had this happen to me too. I just went back to doctors and got more steriods and antibiotics and it did eventually clear up. I also spend some time on a nebuliser. Hope you are ok again soon. x

  • Thanks Hyperkat. I haven't got a nebuliser yet. I'm hoping the hospital may recommend one for me. I here it gets the inhaler stuff into the lungs a lot better.

  • Re your infection the antibiotics the doc gave you - the bugs you are infected with may not be sensitive to them and without a sputum culture it is just a guessing game and your doc would most likely give you a broad spectrum antibiotic to begin with. If it's not cleared up then as advised from other pals here I would defo go back to your gp. Not sure what your illness is, but if by any chance it is bronchiectasis a seven day course would not be adequate - usually it would be at least 14 days or above and high doses.

    Re your SOB it would certainly be a good idea to discuss the use of a nebuliser at your next consultation. I wouldn't be without mine now. Hopefully they will give you one on permanent loan. The benefit of that is the hospital will replace it annually and you will get new tubing, cups and mask or mouthpiece (whichever you prefer to use).

    Good luck


  • Although I've written it in bits and pieces elsewhere on here perhaps a brief history may help.

    I am 62. In April 2011 I had chest pains. It turned out it was angina and it was also found I had a mild heart attack a few days before which I knew nothing about. As I don't drink and not overweight I put it down to smoking rollups and immediately gave up. When I was smoking I used to to a bit of amateur surfing with my teenage/20 year old daughters. I used to get a bit puffed out but never breathless and would get straight back in after a breather of a couple of minutes. These were 6 to 8 feet waves. I also had to run some way on Victoria station platform to catch a train with them once ! I was puffed out but not SOB. After giving up smoking I was ok until about July 2011. I went outside and couldn't walk more than 100 yards and I was gasping for breath. This was all of a sudden with nothing like it previous. The doctor I had then got the practice nurse to do some tests. This consisted of 3 forced breath and 3 long breaths with and without inhalers. The doctor said I had COPD and had a reading of 43%.

    I didn't know much about it so I looked on the web and thankfully found this place a couple of months ago. I found I didn't trust my doctor and called the BLF helpline. The lady said it sounded like I had a chest infection. I told my ( then ) doctor and he prescribed me an inhaler that I didn't need as I already had one. No antibiotics or anything. He didn't even get his stethoscope out. It got too much for me and I went to A&E. They gave me a nebuliser to breath into plus antibiotics and Pred. Within 2 hours I was feeling 100% better than I had felt for months.

    I changed my doctor and he has arranged for me to see the Respiratory people at the hospital for a proper test. I feel finally that I am being dealt with properly. In my opinion it should have not taken a year to get this far. My new doctor is good and listens to what I say and is honest. I mentioned Pulmonary Rehab and although he had not heard of it he said he will get it arranged after my hospital test in early August.

    Sorry if I have gone on a bit but it may give a clearer picture and thank you all for being here for me and for each other :)

  • Definitely go back to your GP. My husband has azithramyacin every other day and takes 2x5mg prednisolone each day too to try and keep infections at bay. They do not always work so he has to sometimes up his steroids and take a different antibiotic. If they don't work then the GP can change the antibiotic and give him another course otherwise he has to be hospitalised. Good luck to you and keep fighting!

  • Thank you surfer dude for explaining your situation. Sorry you had such a rubbish doc but I am really glad you ditched him and now have the proactive and supportive GP which you deserve.

    Good luck at the hospital - let us know how you get on.


  • Will do.

  • Puff, I was like this recently. I was checked for blood clot in my lungs a CT and Dye. Luckly I was cleared.

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