How to prevent chest infections?

I am a 67 year old W and W er in the UK possibly looking at some form of treatment next year.

I am otherwise fit with no other symptoms other than every time I get a cold it almost inevitably ends up with me at the GP getting antibiotics to combat a chest infection. I know my immune system is compromised and I have the flu jab every year and the pneumonia jab.

Is there though anything that people have found that can boost the immune system?


18 Replies

  • I wish I knew Clovelly because I'm prone too. There is lots of 'healthy living' advice out there for boosting the immune system but it obviously comes with a proviso for people with cancer of the immune system. The only way, apart from treatment, to boost the immune system is to have Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) which contains the pooled immunoglobulin G (IgG) immunoglobulins from the plasma of approximately a thousand or more blood donors. This will only be given if your IgG has plummeted low and you're experiencing recurrent infections.

    Nevertheless, the advice in this link has merit for all of us;


  • Interesting article - thanks!

  • Thanks for that link, Newdawn. A very helpful, readable article with a lot of practical points about improving our health. I'm somewhat gratified to see how similar their "Healthy living strategies" are to the points I'd collected from this site and put into my "Coping Strategies" posts. If I'd read that article two years ago, I might have directed people there, rather than writing my own posts! :-)

  • I try to avoid a cold in the first place by using a nasal spray called "First Defence" Talk to the pharmacist. It is sold in supermarkets. It works for me. It is used at the first sign of a cold coming. I still mix with people in crowds but I make myself walk briskly or uphill for at least 30 minutes everyday to help breathing.

    In the past before retirement I would usually have a streamer of a cold at this time of year not yet. Touch wood!

  • This goes on the shopping list - thanks!

  • I get a sinus infection in fall every year for as as long as I can remember. Have one now. And I also use a saline nasal spray. Going on day 10. Will see the doc if it continues for 2 weeks. I don't like to use antibiotics and they don't always work. This is my first illness since CLL diagnosis. My CLL told me a couple months ago not to worry if I get sick. My WBC counts are good. Any advice?

  • Hi Clovelly,

    If you have problems with frequent chest infections, put aside a few minutes every day to do some deep breathing exercises. The following link is helpful. Here are some quotes:

    "If sputum remains in your lungs it provides an ideal environment for infections to develop. It is important that you try to clear your chest in order to reduce your risk of developing chest infections and to reduce the risk of existing infections getting worse...

    How to clear your chest - Basic breathing exercises

    1) Relaxed breathing (breathing control) Sit in a comfortable position. Leaning forwards, resting your arms on your legs or a table, or relaxed in a comfortable armchair is ideal. Concentrate on lowering and relaxing your shoulders and upper chest. Try to keep your breathing rhythmic, regular, calm, gentle and relaxed.

    2) Deep breaths... help increase the expansion of your lungs and encourage as much air as possible to enter.. allowing mucous out of your lungs more easily.

    •Take a good, slow, deep breath in through your nose until you feel you are unable to fill your lungs with any more air. (Imagine you are trying to expand the lower part of your waist as if you are trying to stretch a waistband.)

    •Once your lungs are ‘full’ gently allow the air out of your lungs. Do not force the breath out.

    •Repeat this until you have taken three or four deep breaths but no more or you may feel light-headed.

    •Rest and practise your relaxed breathing taking gentle, calm and quiet breaths.

    •Repeat the deep breaths once more."

    If you haven't time to do all that, it's helpful just to pause and take some deep breaths occasionally. Fill your lungs as much as possible (something many folk don’t often do). Then slowly breathe out completely. Probably a similar thing is happening when Devonrr takes a brisk uphilll walk… It's all good exercise for the lungs...

    Wishing you well,


  • Hi Paula,

    Thanks very much. I am practicing deep breathing as I write!

  • Yes. Breathing well and deeply is so important. As well as my brisk walk I attend a weekly Tai Chi class. The class is excellent for low impact exercise and breathing control. It also is a calm haven for an hour. Tai chi has many medical benefits, they say.

  • I already do a pilates class and this is good for all sorts of issues and maybe I should look at Tai Chi as well. I am told that this activity can also help alleviate CLL symptoms.


  • Hi Clovelly

    We use manuka honey UMF one, expensive, very, however, since I have it everyday (fingers crossed) I haven't been ill for a good 3 years. ( I was always a sickly child and adult and I am suppose to have the flu injection every year, never have, fear of needles so always been ill at xmas) I do not have CLL. My partner has had a cough for ages, not dry, not tickly, just a cough which was odd ( before we knew he had CLL) so put him on it and it went. Mentioned on here we use it, but if he has a word beginning with N ( someone on here will say this word hopefully) then it shouldn't be used. Took him off asap as we didn't know if he was or wasn't. Cough came back next day, very odd I know lol. Fount out he wasn't this N word think its neutropenia , so back on it and its gone again.

    Now not claiming this would work for you, but does us. Hope you manage to find something that works for you :-)

  • If you have bad enough neutropenia, (low counts of the primary white blood cells that fight bacteria and fungal infections), you should not use unpasteurised honey. I'm not sure if pasteurised manuka honey still has an antibiotic effect...

  • Hi AussieNeil hope your well.

    This is something I haven't researched for a good while, I just remember UMF means its gone through proper testing for its authenticity, natural properties, purity and quality of the honey and the grade with UMF only on it puts the number on the front which shows how much it contains of DHA. Which is also in the ingredients. I know other manuka honey without the UMF on, can claim what ever they like is in there etc, which it may not be etc.

    Will have to do more of a recent read up, however, it's December the 1st today yay, Santa is coming lol and touch wood, no sniffles, aches in joints etc from the dreaded winter cold (fingers crossed hey) so honey must do something :-)

  • Like the sound of the honey and i have now invested (!) in a jar. How much do you take daily as i have seen comments of as much as 2 tablespoons a day?

  • Hi Clovelly Merry Christmas,

    I only have a teaspoon a day, my partner does as well. He has his on toast first thing, me, depends on mood, just off the teaspoon or on toast. There are a variety on which people claim to take it, but it's personal choice for us.

    My partner didn't believe in manuka lol two days ago he woke with a mouth full of ulcers so I went and purchased a baby spoon (plastic) rubbed it in Manuka and made him open his mouth and coated all over lol by evening they had gone. Now he believes. I also apply it on cuts and cover with a plaster.

    Personal choice if people believe in this and see if you like the taste, the higher the number, the stronger the taste ;-)

  • Thanks a lot. I added 2 teaspoons to my morning yoghurt and i have to say it went down very well! Not cured my chest infection yet but maybe I should let the antibiotics do their work

  • Yogurt is good especially when on antibiotics , heard it goes nice with it, yes the antibiotics will work 100% they are good at healing yet never treating the cause and trigger factors, but needs must and all. Hope it clears soon for you and you manage to find something to prevent in future or less impact if Manuka isn't for you :-)

  • I used to get chest infections ALL THE TIME 12+ years ago. In fact, that is how I was dx'd with CLL in the first place almost 12 years ago (still untreated). After getting my Vitamin D levels in the 80-100 ng/ml range (USA) the infections have literally disappeared (its been many years since I have had one) along with the colds and flu and almost constant coughing that plagued me.

You may also like...