Bronchiectasis - recent diagnosis and advice

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So I am 57 years old and was diagnosed with mild bronchiectasis about 6 months ago.  I went to the specialist because of breahtlessness thinking I was going to have asthma as it is in the family.

I get about 1-2 bad chest infection a year.

So I have 2 questions which I hope people on the forum might be able to answer.  

Sometimes the mucous is so thick I just cannot cough it up and will end up with coughing fits that last an hour at a time.  I drink water, am on carbocystine and exercise.  Any other advice?

Second, the weather is hot and humid at present and I seem to be coughing more.  Do other people find this?Thanks

 

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13 Replies

  • Posted

    I thoroughly recommend a visit to a physiotherapist. They can give us the correct specialist advice, tailor made for our own unique bronchiectasis. You will be given a long apt initially, but the excercises, advice and homework given should be worth it.

    I did find that inhaling, the old fashioned way over a bowl of hot water with a towel over my head, worked wonders. That one was on the advice of my gp....

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    • Posted

      I will visit the physiotherapist - I did go once but did not pay too much attention as at that time the symptoms were all about the breathlessness and I coughed very little.  That has changed recently.    Thanks for the reminder. 
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  • Posted

    I have mild bronch in addition to asthma.  I am on flovent, which is an inhaler.  I also am on a vitamin regimen.  I know that sounds cliche, but I really think it has helped me.  I also exercise and afterwards can get some of the mucous up fairly easily, so I am a big believer in exercise for this condition.

    For thick mucous, you need to take an expectorant.  I do this occasionally--especially if my chest starts feeling tight or my cough is unproductive.

    I'm pretty good at getting the mucous up when I'm home on my regular schedule, but I recently went on vacation and of course came back with breathing trouble and a tight chest, but I did those things above and am back to my normal.

    I live in the states, so our healthcare may be different.  I see a pulmonologist once a year at present, but will see him more if my condition worsens. 

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  • Posted

    Catchy,

    I agree, use an expectorant to help thin the mucus. I use a salt saline solution in my nebulizer. If you don't have a nebulizer, a salt pipe will work.

    When you cough, have your head lower than your waist, gravity helps bring the mucus out. Have some one 'pound' on your back with cupped hands while you are lying on your stomach, it helps loosen the mucus.

    Every one is different, so it's a matter of finding out which is best for you.

    Beth 

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    • Posted

      Thank you.  A few people have mentioned salt pipes, so I need to investigate.  Have tried hanging my head over the edge of the bed but hate the feeling of that.  As you say, I need to find out something that is good for me.
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    • Posted

      Try, getting on your knees and elbows (instead of  knees and hands).  That way your head is lower than your waist.  Some people lay on their stomach and put pillows under their hips. You can also lay on each side with pillows under your hips.

      Good luck, Beth

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    • Posted

      Hi, Elizabeth,

      Your advice a couple of days ago (above) to have head lower than waist when coughing mucus out was amazing for me today.  I can't bend too well due to back problems (a fusion which does not allow bending or twisting so that's why I can't get on floor) but while standing I tried to see if I even could put my head lower than my waist and didn't have to wait before mucus just came up - I didn't have to work at it so obviously it was ready but I'd had no success trying to cough it up before that.   SO THANK YOU FOR THAT TIP!!  

      Tabatha

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  • Posted

    Yes, to all of that.  DRINK MORE WATER I think is probably the very best thing you could do.  Like 8-10 GLASSES a day.  Someone told me they fill 8 bottles every morning and leave them on the counter and as long as they are all gone by bedtime she knows she's done well.  

    My husband knew a man so bad with asthma in the past and when he called on him in his office he had big containers of water - plastic cups or bottles, whatever, and he drank all day long and he told him his asthma was not a problem anymore as long as he kept up the drinking fluids.  it can be juices too but you have to watch for sugar.

    If you drink that much the mucous thins out along with the help of the mucolytic (?) drug - in the States we take Mucinex.and then the mucous will come up by itself when it's ready.  You'll be sitting reading or working on the computer or cooking (ha ha) and all of a sudden you'll just have a large mucous deposit ready to be expelled hopefully into the sink - I keep tissues around handy so I can easily grab one when I need it.  All that is probably the easiest way to do it and it takes a lot of willpower to drink the water. (By the way many years ago, my Pulmo. never ever told me to take a mucolytic even when I told him I felt like I had Cystic Fibrosis my mucous was so thick and I felt like I was choking.  It was his nurse who told me that's what they usually recommend to their patients).

    Something else I'll throw in here on a sort of different subject - i talked to Russell about this so he'll be  happy to know I'm fixed --- I had hurt my ankle two months ago and my foot has been swelling so bad that at bedtime my leg and ankle looked like a palm tree trunk.   I normally have really skinny legs, so thin at the bottom that they almost don't look like legs.  So here they were round around the ankle and fat and straight all the way half way up my calf.   I elevated it slightly like lying on the couch,, resting on a box under the computer, two pillows on the bed and I iced it, all to no avail.  Most of the swelling would be gone every morning after sleepng 7 hrs but during the day the swelling all came back again. I went to Podiatrist 4 times, wore a soft cast, had a cortisone injection, all absolutely no use.  I had bought a wheelchair initially after leaving the ER (by the way I did this trauma by pulling off a pair of 20-30 support hose but my leg was not straight - it was bent sideways across the bed and my husband pulled off the hose from that angle - my fault, I should have had him stand at the foot of the bed - so we think it twisted a nerve and I went screaming to the ER.  Tissues and ligaments I guess got inflamed and a tendon going up my calf acc. to MRI.  Lately I've been thinking I'd be having a problem forever and may need that darned wheelchair in future.

    You want to know how I fixed it ??  I checked online the other night because my brother-in-law who we'd just visited, had horribly fat swollen legs and I wanted to help him AND myself and I found a common website that gave several ltips for swollen legs and feet:  Epsom Salt soaks, Magnesium pills, 10 glasses of water a day and walking more than sitting.   I mention just those because those four things I had at home and could do.   Immediately I upped my water and drank about 2 whole bottles in the late afternoon and another before bed and soaked with the Epsom Salts 20 min. that night and took two 400 mg Magnesium capsules.  That's all that was in it.  Just mag.  Went to bed and didn't elevate or ice (this is after 2 months of horrible swelling and painful ankles) NEXT MORNING 100% of the swelling was gone. every bit of it even the area below the ankle bone that usually was slightly swollen every morning when i woke up.   I was totally amazed; no foot doctor knew about this little trick.   So the pain has gone, I'm finally able to walk now and went up the street last night. 

    The Reason for lots of water is because it flushes out toxins and keeps that extra fluid I had MOVING up my leg and out.  i hadn't been drinking excessive amounts before that and not walking much there was no way for the fluid to get out.   The reason for the walking, the website said, was because the calf muscles will move the fluids up the leg.  If you lay down all the time or sit those muscles are not working.    I am so excited that my foot is now back to normal completely with no pain and I think it's the Magnesium which allows sleep almost instantly and a peaceful sleep, a better sleep as it's a relaxer, a calming mineral.    

    I'm hoping there are a lot of people out there with this problem not maybe from trauma like mine was but like my brother-in-law who just normally has the problem due to being sedentary and eating wrong and not drinking water and not taking vitamins never mind Magnesium.   

    SO, Catchy20, regardless of anything else increase your water to double what you are doing now and see if that helps you with that mucous.

    Sorry for going off on a tangent but I've read much information about many health issues and sure never knew that Magnesium which is good for many things, would heal a very stubborn swollen limb that Cortisone didn't touch!

    I know all you 'natural' people out there will love that!

    Also I'll add that what Pennine here has said about inhaling steam does indeed work wonders for bringing up the hard plus of mucous - I've done that too - works better if you don't have your hair just perfect and makeup on!  biggrin

    Tabatha

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    • Posted

      You had such a long period of analysis on this I'm sure it would have been done, but the first thing to do with swollen legs if they don't go away quickly is to get a kidney function blood test. Unexplained swollen extremities are apparently (so we Brits were being told yesterday by the PR coming out of the government health department, which in passing castigates medics for not picking up on it) a classic early sign of potentially life-threatening kidney failure!

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    • Posted

      Oh, gruesome.  Hi, Steve - no I did not have that done.  Didn't go to a primary doctor only the foot dr.  But the hospital did blood test and all was fine except WBC counts a bit off but nothing the hosp. noted as being abnormal really.  I picked up my medical records yesterday and I noted they hadn't even mentioned the trauma to my foot.  Just said I had pain in limb.  AND they didn't even mention the pain drug they gave me as a shot.  Not in the record!!   

      BUT, Steve, it was only one leg I had swollen as a result of pulling off the support hose.  Nothing to do with health issues.  It didn't seem like the stocking was yanked off hard - it was more of a smooth movement but fairly quickly and it did not hurt when he pulled it off until about 15 seconds or so later after I'd covered up in bed and I felt a weird sensation in my foot and then i was screaming.   I'd been wearing a real strong hose because I'd hurt my foot exercising 3 wks before and my husband had to take this hose off every night because I couldn't do it.

      I've had a back fusion and so I'm not as limber as I used to be and my arms are not as long as my legs and I can't reach my entire foot in order to take off the tight stocking.   LONG STORY but I wanted to explain better how something so silly and simple could end up in disaster and you are right to have been thinking the way you did except it was trauma that caused it.

      By the way not the doctors I saw or the hospital saw the swelling that I had every day because it hadn't started to really get swollen when I went to the ER and the dr. only saw me in the morning before it started to swell up for the day.  This may be why nothing else was suggested too.  He said he'd send me to a Vein specialist next!!!

      Tonight I'm reading all about magnesium which I've done many many times in the past but this time with renewed interest.  I realize I have not been getting supplemental Mg. since I stopped a certain vitamin so I'm lacking perhaps.  And I just read that both histamine production and bronchial spasms increase with Mg deficiency.  So I'm going to be adding it separately and taking it at bedtime and see if it makes a big difference to my bronchial spasms.

      My brother-in-law could very well have a bad problem with both his swollen legs, however, and I'm anxious to hear next week what his doctor tells him.  this is a man who probably hears what one says but doesn't listen if you know what I mean.  He'll go on as usual and end up in hospital one day.  My husband knows he won't take advice so he doesn't say anything to him even tho he has a lot of issues like weight, diet, activity, sitting etc.  If his dr. doesn't do anything like a blood test or more I'll mention what you said to him and hopefully it'll scare him into another opinion.

      Thanks for writing, Steve.

      Tabatha

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  • Posted

    Great advice already but totally agree that hot humid weather makes both breathing and getting rid of mucus far worse.

    Water and plenty of it helps too.

    Must investigate salt pipes.

    Keep don't neglect your physio and allow yourself plenty of time to do it.

    Best wishes.

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    • Posted

      Yes, have not enjoyed the humidity and I must learn to keep my fluid intake up.  Thank you. 
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