by Bronchoman, Aug 28, 2003

I am a 43 year old male. I have recurring respiratory infections that I get quite frequently throughout the year, about once every 3-4 months.  I am a non-smoker, take TONS of nutritional supplements, eat right, exercise. The only thing I
by National JewishBlank, Sep 04, 2003
It is possible that you are getting better, but the infection is not completely clearing each time.  In 3 to 4 months time the germs increase in number enough that you have another respiratory infection.  Under stress or low resistance or an immunocompromised state your immune system may not be able to keep the numbers of germs low enough, so you have another respiratory infection.  So it could be the same pathogen that is flaring up each time.

On the other hand it could be that each infection is completely clearing.  It is possible that you are being infected with a new germ each time.  To really learn the answer to your question you would need to have the pathogen identified during each respiratory infection.  One way of having this done is by having the phlegm that you are coughing up from your chest cultured.

From the immune test results that you have mentioned it sounds like you are low in your immunoglobulin G (IgG) subclasses 3 and 4.  This can happen with common variable immune deficiency (CVID).  IgG is a part of your immune system that helps you to fight infections.  When the IgG level in your blood is low it can be harder for you to fight infections.  Recurring infections are the most common problem with CVID.  These commonly include sinus and chest infections like bronchitis and pneumonia.  Physical and emotional well being can be improved with regular exercise and sleep.  Since you are a runner it sounds like you are getting regular exercise.  However, it is possible that when you are not getting enough proper rest that your immune system is not able to function at its best to help you fight infections.  Antibiotics will treated bacterial infections.  CVID is treated with replacement therapy with intravenous gammaglobulin.  This will raise your IgG levels so that you can fight infections better.  Please read our Immune Deficiencies MedFact at for more information.  An immunologist would be the type of specialist to help in making the diagnosis and getting the best treatment.

When your nose just starts to drip it could be postnasal drip.  This is drainage from the nose and sinuses dripping down the back of the throat.  Postnasal drip can cause breathing difficulty as a result of irritation of the throat and lungs.  You may experience the postnasal drip as a sore throat or nasal passage.  Since you prefer holistic treatment rather than medicines here are some suggestions.  As long as you are not on a fluid restriction you should be drinking 6 to 8 8-ounce glasses of non-caffeine non-alcoholic fluid daily.  This will thin the phlegm so that it moves more easily.  A nasal wash helps remove phlegm from the nose and sinuses.  This can temporarily reduce the postnasal drip and lessen breathing difficulty.  Please read our Nasal Wash MedFact at for more information about this technique.  Share this information with your doctor to see if you would benefit from this daily treatment.

Inhaling a bronchodilator by nebulizer helps to loosen the phlegm so that you can cough it up more easily.  It may also help with your wheezing, distressing shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest.  To know for sure if these symptoms are due to a lung problem, like asthma, you will need to have testing done.  Generally testing starts with a simple breathing test called spirometry.  This test provides detailed information about how your lungs are working.  It will show if there is obstruction in your airways.  To really test for asthma it is best to repeat this test after using a rescue inhaler, an inhaled bronchodilator.  This measures how much the bronchodilator helps your lungs by reversing the problem.  When there is a 20% increase the test is positive for asthma.  You might consider seeing a local board certified allergist for help in making the diagnosis and getting the best treatment.
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Member Comments (3)
by nurse12hr, Aug 31, 2003
Well, you asked for opinions, so here's mine.

What I think is happening, is that you have a chronic bronchitis situation going on.  You probably have a deep-seated bacterial infection, that has lingered and lingered.  

I understand your fear of antibiotic therapy.  It is often way overused, but I think in your case it is probably indicated.  An adequate course of treatment may help clear those deep-seated bacteria and interrupt these frequent infections.

Several years ago, I suffered from frequent respiratory infections also.  I also have asthma.  What my pulmonary doctor did, was to treat me with different antibiotics for the first week of each month, for six months in total.

I have never again been bothered by frequent respiratory infections.  Like you, I also try to avoid antibiotic therapy  at all costs, but sometimes they are well indicated.  Those few months spent on antibiotics, have freed me from frequent respiratory infections, and ultimately decreased my need for antibiotic therapy over the years.

I wish you luck!
by Bronchoman, Sep 06, 2003
In response to yours, it seems the infection clears completely every time because I have no residual phlegm, cough, sinus, or other symptoms. I did just have both a throat and phlegm culture this last infection and both were negative for pathogens of any kind and showed normal flora. Very strange. This last infection cleared quite nicely and I had only 1 day in which the breathing was tight, etc. I thought that would've lasted longer, but it didn't. This is not allergic, mind you. It definitely starts as a virus with varying degress of severity AT FIRST, but always ends with it hitting me with bronchitis and then clearing 100%. There has been only 1 episode in my life in which antibiotics were necessary because it wouldn't clear on its own and that was 3 years ago. The avg. time frame from beginning to end is 10 days.

As far as the ID issue, I have researched this area quite extensively for the last year. I am very aware that in IgG3 deficiency there is a direct link to recurrent respiratory infections which led me to study this issue in-depth.

I have been to see 2 local immunologists and both said no way to IVIG, despite my exhibiting a low IgG3 and 4 sublclass. Why? For one, because I showed a fairly normal immune response to antigens and that does not support a case of CVID - at least for insurance purposes (remember IVIG therapy costs $4000/month!). In addition, subclass deficiency is not recongnized by the allopathic medical establishment as a "real disease." I have already conferred extensively with the Primary Immune Deficiency Foundation, had them write medical necessity letters, etc. to no avail. In any case, I did go ahead and get a scrip from my wholistic doc for some BayGam IM. I injected myself with 2-3 cc's a week for 4 mos. and no change in my IgG3 or 4 levels (they actually decreased a bit!) and I still got sick. The last immunologist I went to see for a 2nd opinion thought that taking BayGam was totally unwarranted, a waste of money, and warned about possible contamination despite the detergent used since it is a human blood product. He also felt IVIG's risks would outweigh its benefits. He further stated that he'd love to treat me with it because he'd make big bucks, but it would be ethically wrong, unwarranted given all the test results and history before him, and the risks would outweigh the benefits. At least he was honest. So, I stopped the BayGam completely. Unless you can see another way around this, I think my having seen two immunologists would pretty much confirm what to do or not to do, right?

As far as the asthma issue, the first immunologist I went to see was also an allergist and I believe did submit me to the test you described in which I had to breathe deeply into a tube hooked up to a machine that measures output. He did mention that I was borderline. He also suggested immunotherapy (allergy shots), but I passed on that, having already and extensively done that to no avail when I was a teenager (never again). I do have acute responses to many many airbornes (IgE-mediated), but am way less symptomatic as an adult. My purpose was to fix the underlying sublclass deficiency, not to get allergy shots again!

I have been so very anti-antibiotic for many reasons. My belief is that you should only take them when it's a life or death situation, a chronic infection, and not take them indiscriminately like everyone else. Docs dispense them like candy. Taking long courses of abx will destroy your good gut flora, will create resistant strains of bacteria, and weaken immunity! In my testing, I show no evidence of a chronic bacterial infection. I've tested for M. pnuemoniae, C.pnuemoniae, etc. via PCR and all come up negative, although I did show that I had antibodies to M. pnuemoniae from past exposure.

So, perhaps it is a new virus each episode. The only thing that makes me think it's the same bug are the similarity in symptoms from one infection to the next. And- in each case, they all resulted from a few days of lack of proper rest coupled with intense workouts, despite my strict nutritional and supplement regimen.

I am back to square one, but I never stop my pursuit. I did, in fact, find a promising oriental herbal rememdy that has shown in studies to increase IgG3 sublclass and humoral immunity in general (B cells) and am in the midst of obtaining the raw materials to try this approach. I am one that believe in finding the etiology of maladies, and not in just treating the symptoms. Every day I learn something new. Learning about our bodies should never stop. At this point, I don't know what else I can do that I'm not already doing. Let me know if there is anything else.


by gringa1989, Nov 12, 2009
A related discussion, I keep getting upper respitory infections was started.
by Grannyconnie, Apr 05, 2010
I'm the same.  For the past 5 years (I'm 56 female) have been getting colds flus and subsequent chest infections.  I thought it was working and stress travelling.  Now I'm unemployed and well rested and still dying. I know I picked the viruses up from my grandson 2 yes who is in a crèche .  I am a poor eater.  But these chest infections are so debilitating.  Anti biotics leave me weak but also can give me diorrohea.  I wud give anything to stop getting them.  I'm going to buy shitake. Mushroom tablets and bee pollen.  Let u know.
by futuregramma, Jun 01, 2011
I am amazed at how hard you've worked on this and how extensive your knowledge is. You say it always hits you when you don't get enough sleep and/or do intense workouts. Well, try a year without that and see what happens. I know it's a bit unrealistic, but you've really got something stubborn going on. Match that stubbornness