Has anyone held off on antibiotics if... - Bronchiectasis Su...

Bronchiectasis Support

595 members249 posts

Has anyone held off on antibiotics if they have flu


Hi there, I've recently been diagnosed with bronchiectasis and had 7 courses of antibiotics last year as well as for pneumonia. This week I had an awful cough, lots of mucous and then a temperature. The mucous changed from green to beige as I got more flu like symptoms so I've decided to hold off. it is now yellow. I've been clearing my chest and am hoping I can fight it off. The doctors wanted me to start my antibiotics( had a telephone consultation as was too ill to go in). However, I got a second opinion from the respiratory Occupational Therapist who agreed that antibiotics won't help flu. I feel like I've had to take so many antibiotics (and it's also my birthday next week so would be nice to be able to taste food and have a drink) and wonder if I should question the doctors or if I should really be taking them now. I feel that they do a great job but are maybe scared not to advise us to take them straight away. Has anyone submitted a sputum sample and then gone onto antibiotics? Anyway, just wondered if am doing the right thing. I still have a hacking cough (I also have asthma) but surely we all get coughs and colds and flu and don't need antibiotics.

22 Replies

Hi. Who diagnosed flu? A sputum sample sounds like a good idea, it would help to make sure you are on the right antibiotics. I am wondering if you had the right antibiotics before, 7 courses sounds quite a lot. Have you been having the recommended ten day courses? Sorry to ask so many questions. Clearly things are not working well for you but it does sound as if you have an infection. Some of the other members have posted good bronchiectasis guides. If you haven't read them it might be worth digging them out? Anyway, hope you are on the mend soon.

LolaEs in reply to Rayswife

Hi, thanks for getting back to me. I spoke to the doctors on the phone and they said it could be flu. i have taken levoflaxocin for the past 3 times and that's what I would have to take for 14 days. The sputum samples the last few times were inconclusive so the consultant recommended I stay on levoflaxocin. I have been infection free for 9 weeks so was doing ok but after Christmas, I became ill. I can't stop coughing and feel very weak but if this is just flu then surely I'm taking antibiotics unnecessarily. My sputum is beige rather than green. I find antibiotics make me really ill too..

Sandy- in reply to LolaEs

Hello LolaEs

Sorry to hear you are struggling with what sounds like a chest infection. I too have bronchiectasis and asthma and take my emergency supply of antibiotics at the first sign of an infection. I also take Azithromycin 3 days a week as a prophylactic, which really helps. I am coming towards the end of what I think was a virus, took my emergency supply of Amoxicillin which don’t seem to work now and then was given 2 weeks of Doxycycline. I’m much better but my peak flow isn’t yet back to normal at 380 when normally 430, and still coughing up a lot of mucous from deep down in my right lung. I was told by my Respiratiry Consultant that dirty coloured sputum is a sign of a chest infection. I’m awaiting a second sputum sample result but my first was clear, however my sputum results have only ever been normal.

You need to take care of yourself and make sure you are maintaining your chest clearance more than usual and drink plenty of warm drinks which will help dilute the mucous. Have you thought of asking your GP for Carbocisteine which helps loosen the mucous? It helps me. I find that irritants are worse when I have an infection.

Take care and hope you improve soon. xx

LolaEs in reply to Sandy-

Hi Sandy, thanks for your reply. I'm sorry you've been so unwell. I guess my understanding was a virus cannot be treated by antibiotics but presumably we are so susceptible to infections that we need to take them. Today, I feel worse and the sputum has gone green so I think I'm gonna have to start them. I find they make me feel awful. Thank you

Are you mad ?and not had the flu and pnumonia jabs? Antibiotcs are prescibed for a reason and when did the OT get a medical degree. Too ill to go to the GP really sayes it all. I've had 14 couses simce July 2016 so what ? its better than being hospitalised with pnumionia.

LolaEs in reply to medway-lady

Hi there! Yes, I am quite possibly mad or just fairly new to the condition and don't understand. I just feel the doctors are quite quick to offer antibiotics even when it is a virus and they often have less understanding than the OT's and respiratory nurses. I have had flu and pneumonia jabs too, I'm not sure why you thought I hadn't. Antibiotics make me feel particularly awful so I would rather avoid them if I can. I'm sorry you've had so many courses and believe they are necessary. Thanks for replying

medway-lady in reply to LolaEs

Hi I was a bit tongue in cheek!! but I've had pnumonia and it was not fun. My GP is very mean as they all should be with the antibiotics and I'm allergic to penicillin too. I too get reactions but to be truthful the chest infections which I get frequantly in my view are best avoided. we are all different but I take so much stuff to keep well that antibiotics are just another pill to swallow. If it helps next time ask for Doxcicycllin which works well contains a small amount of steriod and has no side effects. But is expensive !!

LolaEs in reply to medway-lady

He he, no worries! Yeah,me too and was hideous. I had a regular doctor who knew more about the condition but he is away and the other doctors seem to just tell me to take antibiotics. I will ask for that other antibiotic although for some reason the consultant said I need to be on levoflaxocin. Keep well and thanks. I'm going to take those antibiotics and accept that not being able to have a drink on my birthday is better than being super ill.

What makes you think Doxy has steroid in it medway-lady please?


My friend a nurse.

Never heard that before and can't find any evidence. As far as I know it is part of the Tetracycline family and works on gram negative bacteria.


Hidden in reply to LolaEs

Just because you have a virus doesn't mean you haven't contracted a bacterial infection also. Bronchiectasis is one of those conditions where doctors do not hold back on antibiotics because of the need to clear your lungs. I to am struggling with what we believe was the flu virus despite my flu jab and am now on my 5th antibiotic since Christmas, I haven't achieved my 'well' state since the virus first hit me. Unfortunately because of the way the NHS is structured and the pressures on Respiratory teams, whilst I have been providing a number of samples of sputum for cultures, the NHS has only been able to test one, which tested inconclusive. Bronchiectasis puts demands on your lifestyle and will never be reversed, to prevent further damage to your lungs make sure you are doing your clearance every day (twice), preferably postural drainage, and follow your doctors instruction.

I’m so pleased you are taking the antibiotics. Sometimes we need to listen to our bodies and also check if we are running a temperature. It’s important to look after our lungs, and help ourselves get better as soon as possible. As soon as the weather warms up in spring I’ll be out walking.

Best wishes.

Hi Lola

No you are not mad and the only silly question is the one you don't ask. You are just new to bronchiectasis and have a lot of understandable questions.

Your OT is right in that antibiotics are of no use in treating a virus. Sayng that I would agree it would stop there in the normally fit and well. I and a lot of people with Bronciectasis find that when we get a viral infection, it invaraibaly turns into a secondary bacterial infection.

Has your GP sent in a sample. The guidelines state that you put in a sample but then start straight away with an antibiotic (in BE it will be a high dose for usually 14 days). When the sample comes back you and your GP will then find out if the bacteria you have cultured is sensitive to the ab you are on, if not then it will be changed.

Are you under the care of a respiratory consultant with a special interest in cf/bronciectasis, if not check out online for one you wish to see and ask your GP to refer you. If you are having so many exacerbations and have problems with oral abs then your consultant may think it beneficial for you to nebulise anitbiotics or take a propylactic ab such as Azithromycin, which is usually prescribed 1 three times a week and occasionally 1 each day.

Just noticed you do have a consultant. Has s/he referred you to a respiratory physio I wonder.

Good luck


LolaEs in reply to cofdrop-UK

Hi there, thank you for your kind reply.

That makes sense that a virus might turn into a bacterial infection. I didn't see the GP and decided to take my rescue antibiotics at the weekend so couldn't give a sputum sample. Am hoping they will kick in soon. I'm coughing loads at night, sometimes to the point of being sick, have had a high temperature complete with hallucinations and have pain at the back of my lungs when I breathe.

I have a respiratory consultant, saw a physio and also recently completed pulmonary rehab. The consultant thought I was doing okay and I managed to stay well for almost 3 months. I want to be able to exercise again but know I have to take things slowly. I'm hoping to start work after again next week after being off since September but we shall see. Trying not to feel sorry for myself but am only 41 and sometimes my life feels very limited compared to before when I lived in Spain and travelled a lot.

Anyway, thanks for listening

cofdrop-UK in reply to LolaEs

Sorry you are struggling so much and I hope the abs kick in and you start to feel better soon.

I imagine it must be a great sense of loss to you, especially when you feel so crook at present. I have never had the shock of diagnosis as I have had BE since babyhood, although I have had the shock of other health issues, so do empathise with you.

I am sure you will see life in a better space once you start to feel better.


LolaEs in reply to cofdrop-UK

Thank you for your kind words.

Wow, I feel for you having to deal with this your whole life.

I'm still very tired but getting stronger and feeling more positive. I am at the stage too where I can't stop coughing ( it's a dry cough) and that's exhausting.

Anyway, take care and thanks again

cofdrop-UK in reply to LolaEs

I would never advocate stopping a productive cough but if it's dry and it's keeping you up at night, here's what some folks have found helpful. Sounds a bit wierd I know but you an only try. Vicks but not on your chest. Put it on the soles of your feet and put a pair of cotton socks on.


LolaEs in reply to cofdrop-UK

Ooh thank you. I'm feeling a lot better physically now but will try that next time.

wiserlady in reply to LolaEs

Can understand you feeling so low at 41, makes you feel old doesnt it. I am 63 and feel that way.

Just repeating what my doctor explained to me when I asked the same question: the antibiotics are prescribed to cover me against opportunistic secondary bacterial infections. Not for the virus. Take care, you must be exhausted with all this going on!

Its important to eat prebiotics and take probiotics after antibiotics to build up your immune system again, Hope you feel better now. Hope you do not mind but posted a prayer just for you as you sound so down on the free - non religious - prayer board at accuratepsychicreadingsonli.... Those who live alone are struggling big time now. I get the vulnerable persons parcel each week as I am a vulnerable patient and find the doctors are quite helpful but you still have your problems to deal with. How are you coping?

You may also like...