CLL Support Association
9,246 members14,618 posts

How do I deal with a chest cold??

Hi everyone.

I am in day 2 of having a chest cold, it's not horrible but its certainly not pleasant. My brother came down from B.C to visit me here in Alberta, thinking his cold was over with and that he was no longer contagious, he thought it would be ok, and to be honest, so did I. However; Here I am with a chest cold and not feeling good at all.

I am in Watch and wait and just wondering if there is anything I should be doing other than trying to get rest? How long should I wait before deciding to go to my doctor?

If anyone has any tips, I'd love to hear it.

Thank you.

6 Replies

If it's viral rest drink water eat well. If still ill after a week could be bacterial and antibiotics may be required. Go see your gp.


Hi Yolliyo and thanks for introducing yourself in a reply to the Recently Diagnosed post.

Welcome to our community where you'll find support and be able to in turn help others as together we learn more about CLL and the increasing range of treatments becoming available.

I'm not medically trained, but I think knowing how to manage colds depends to a considerable extent on knowing how your body reacts to colds - which with CLL is difficult, because the impact of CLL on our immunity worsens over time. I'd also suggest you make a note to ask your CLL specialist for their specific advice for you.

Colds being viral, we just have to be patient and do what we can to help our bodies fight off the infection. So that means eating and drinking healthily and not giving ourselves any additional stress. Obviously the big concern is secondary (bacterial or perhaps fungal) infections, so drinking plenty of water to replace that lost from cold secretions and a higher body temperature (more evaporative loss) is important in preventing secretions from building up in our respiratory passages, providing a good environment for bacteria to cause sinus and lung (pneumonia) infections. Inhaling the steam from your shower can help there, or even using a bowl of hot water.

If you feel your cold is quickly worsening or your temperature becomes dangerously high, then obviously you need to be seen by a doctor quickly, hopefully by your regular doctor who will be more familiar with your history with colds. I always make sure I can wait well away from other patients while waiting for my appointment.

Be prepared for a longer recovery from your cold than you are used to; my last cold lasted 5 weeks (and the cold before that with a very exhausting cough 11 weeks). I got through my last cold without antibiotics, though I had some prescribed by my doctor on hand and there were a couple of times when I felt I might need them. Taking over the counter remedies to reduce the severity of distressing symptoms will hopefully bring some relief, but don't expect the cold to clear up any faster. I think letting your body run a (safe) temperature can help your body more quickly overcome the infection, but the way our immune system and temperature regulation can be disrupted by our CLL may influence that. Seeking medical help for a temperature over 38.4C/101°F would be wise and essential if you are neutropenic:

I've found medical sites report a considerable range of contagious periods both before and after someone actually feels ill, (i.e. there's considerable professional uncertainty) so I hope your brother doesn't feel bad about sharing his cold with you. He tried to do what was right and you both agreed it would be OK. It may well have been someone else you encountered for that matter.

Finally, once you are over your cold, make certain you've had the two vaccines to protect you against common pathogens causing pneumonia: Pneumonia is a major cause of death if you have CLL.

If you share your most distressing symptoms, I expect others will share advice on what they've found helps them.



Sorry to hear about your cold. My last one my GP absolutely refused to give me anything, he said it will be done in 7 or 14 days...he was right..14 days. If you do go to your GP make sure you put a mask on when you get to the clinic and sanitize your hands. Just FYI, I'm from our beautiful province of Alberta as well, love it !....take care...Cat


I find taking extra vitamin C, Echinacea supplements, and zinc helps to shorten a cold, plus rest and lots of fluids. If I take these right when I start feeling symptoms, then I don't get the cold at all.


I suggest you get into see your doctor by day 4, and request a swab and culture to see what you are dealing with...

Neil has outline the risks that simple colds represent in CLL very well, you need to be proactive... by seeing your GP.

I'm not being alarmist, but I have lost too many CLL friends to what started out as a simple cold and snowballed into pneumonia...



Yes, that happened to me, 3 weeks in hospital with extremely low oxygen levels and bilateral pneumonia. I'm on W&W and hadn't been in hospital since I was 13 (tonsils) so thought I'd get over what appeared at first to be an annoying and bad cold. Even with CLL I'd recovered quite well from other viruses.

After a week of pain killers and another of an antibiotic that made me vomit everything (Septerin), the fever became uncontrollable. I developed rigors and I couldn't even walk. Had to get a neighbour to take me to emergency, then on to hospital where I was put in isolation. It was Sunday, and there was no transport back home, so my partner had to stay in the hotel opposite the hospital for the first night. Turned out to be 'flu plus swine 'flu. Still have a painful sinus and some scarring in one lung, and very mild symptoms return when I get too tired.

So I no longer take sniffles and sneezes lightly, especially as I still teach students, who seem to be permanent virus-transmitters, so I'm extremely careful to anti-bac and wash my hands after classes, and not allow them near enough to breathe on me!

1 like

You may also like...