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Returning to normal after chest infection??
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Returning to normal after chest infection??

I just had a chest infection that lasted over a month. Had to have two lots of antibiotics for it. My peak flow had dropped right down to the border of the yellow/red zone. The nurse said my chest is clear now and I don't have a wheeze. But, I still feel tight, am coughing and waking up at least twice in the night because of it. I also wheeze at night but not in the day. I have been on increased inhalers for the last 6 weeks. My peak flow is now in the middle of the yellow zone sometimes a tiny bit better so it is much better than it was.

How long does it take for my breathing to return to normal after this? Does it usually take this long? I have to go back next week just to check it but I really want to get back to normal. My asthma is usually very well controlled. Would be good if I didn't need to be taking the salbutomol so much because it really makes me shake.

What are your experiences of this?
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I'm sorry you haven't been feeling well.  There's also been lots of "stuff" going around here in Virginia and I was one of the "lucky" ones to have caught it.  It also seems to be sticking around quite a long time with everyone, not just me who has asthma.

There is no set time frame as to when your breathing and peak flows will go back to "normal" after being sick.  Everyone is different and each illness can be different too - some of it depending on how bad your breathing was before you received any treatment.  Just because your nurse does not hear any wheezing does NOT mean that you're not having difficulties - especially since you said you feel tight in the chest, are still coughing and your peak flows have not returned to the good range.  The infection may be cleared, but there still could be (and probably is) inflammation and possibly aireway constriction and/or excess phlegm that can at least be contributing to your symptoms.

When you cough - are you bringing anything up?  If so, what color is it?  I know it sounds gross to actually look at your sputum, but it can help to determine if there really is any lingering infection.  Have you had a chest Xray recently?  If not, you may want to request to have one done - it could rule out a small pneumonia that they cannot hear upon simple listening to your chest.

Are you coughing at all times of the day or STRICTLY at night?  AGain, this may be a key point - if you are coughing ONLY at night when you are laying down, at least part of the cough and chest tightness could be GERD (acid reflux) related.  You can have GERD even if you do not have any GI symptoms such as heartburn.  One of the symptoms of GERD can be a nagging, nighttime cough and nighttime wheezing.  Being on antibiotics for a while can actually increase the likelihood of GERD because they change the natural flora in the gut - and they, themselves, can cause GI problems, including heartburn.

Try elevating just the head of your bed - you can purchase bed risers at pretty much any department store - they usually come in a set of 4, however you would only use 2 of them to raise the head of your bed only.  You can try propping yourself up in bed on extra pillows, although that is not ideal because the pillows tend to move during the night and also just propping yourself up on pillows can actually put your stomach/esophagus in not such a good position that will actually make GERD worse if you have it, which, in turn, can make your breathign and coughing worse.

In addition to the antibiotics and inhaler, did you also have a round of oral prednisone or other oral steroid?  If not, you may want to ask your doctor to give that a try and see if it makes any difference.  I usually end up having to go on oral steroids for a period of time whenever I get sick - even with inhaled steroids, they tend not to be enough for me so I need the oral ones to kind of get kick started.  Of course, if you don't have to stay on them long term, you're much better off, but a week or two of oral steroids really may make a difference.

Meanwhile also some other things you may try is definitely make sure you are staying well hydrated and that the air in your home is not too dry.  When the heat is running, the air in homes tends to get much drier, which can dry out your airways, making it more difficult to breathe.  If the air in your home is dry, try using a cool mist humidifier (being sure to clean it daily to avoid mold/mildew build-up) - or even placing small containers of water on your heating vents to add moisture to the air - again, making sure you clean them daily so there is not a buil-up of mold and/or mildew.

I, personally, cut way back on dairy products when I'm having trouble with my asthma or am sick because I find that the dairy products do make me produce more mucous.  That may just be me, but it might be worth a try to see if it makes any difference with you.  I also find that if my nose is plugged up, that also makes my breathing more difficult and I wheeze and cough more.  If you find this also, try using a SALINE nasal spray to keep your nasal passages moist and help to thin out any secretions in there, making it easier for you to blow them out.

When you go out in the cold air, be sure to cover your mouth and nose with a scarf or something similar.  Breathing in cold air can definitely trigger an asthma attack, so breathing wamer, moister air is better.

Do you have a nebulizer machine at home or just inhalers?  If you don't have a nebulizer machine at home, maybe ask your doctor about you getting one.  I still use my inhaler as a first resort, but if that doesn't give me good results, I can go to my nebulizer -- many times having that at home has saved me from having to make a trip to the ER for a breathing treatment.  There are different medications that can be used in the nebulizers, including just albuterol or nebulized steroids.

By all means, keep an eye on things and do not hesitate to get back into your doctor sooner if you notice that your peak flows are getting lower again or if you're having an increase in symptoms.  I hope some of the suggestions I've given you help and I hope you feel better real soon.  Please do keep me posted on how you're doing.

P.S. I can relate to the shaking from the meds - I actually just did a nebulizer treatment before I typed this and I'm having trouble keeping my hands from shaking!!
Wow, thanks for such a reply!!

Yes I am coughing things up still. Not sure what colour you'd describe it as. It was really green but it's paler now. No noit had a chest x-ray in a few years.

The coughing is not limited to the night, just the wheezing is. I don't think I have GERD.

I will try an extra pillow and see if that helps.

No, I didn't get oral steroids, they just increased my inhaled ones. Will see what they say when I go back next week.

I'll try a humidifier too thanks, that might help.

No I don't have a neb machine. My asthma is usually very well controlled so I don't think I really need one..usually just go to hosp if I need one but that is rare.

Thanks so much for such a comprehensive reply and all the suggestions, I appreciate it :)

You're more than welcome - I'm glad I was able to give you some ideas o fthings to try.

If what you'r ecoughing up still has ANY color to it, even if it is a paler color than it was when the infection first started, that is definite sign that there is still infection there.  Sputum that is ANY shade of yellow or green (or even brownish, etc.) is a sign of infection.  With strictly an asthma attack, the sputum may be thicker than your norm is, but it still would be clear or whitish - no color.

The two rounds of antibiotics that you had - were they both the same antiobtic - just two rounds of it?  Or did they give you two different antibiotics?  It could be that if they gave you two rounds of the same thing, your body has kind of become immune to it (or it simply wasn't strong enough) - so perhaps switching to a different antibiotic might help.

I hope you get some answers when you go to the doc next week.
Thank you again.

I had two different antibiotics at max strength..amoxycillin and clarythromycin if that's how you spell it.

Will tell her next time - she did ask what colour but I didn't know because I'd stopped looking! It is almost white..had another look.

I'd agree that the infection is gone because I feel so much's just the asthma symptoms now. Will talk to them again.

Thanks again :)

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