How do I avoid getting chest infections

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Diagnosed with Bronchiectasis last year because of regular blood in sputum. I am on regular antibiotics 3 times a week, but have chest infections needing a different antibiotic for 2 weeks. How can I stop getting so many chest infections when people in shops, buses, cinema, church etc. are coughing, sneezing, etc. I don't want to be a hermit. What do other people do? I cannot walk very far because of the breathlessness and back problem, so that is no option. Would appreciate any suggestions.

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  • Posted

    hi Janet, like yourself I am recently diagnosed with Bronchiectasis but I am lucky enough to like in the middle of nowhere by the sea, and some days never see a living soul! so quite what to do in crowded places? in Japan they wear a surgical face mask for polution perhaps that would help, or indeed a scarf over your lower face (as if you had just been to the dentist on a cold day) a little dab of Olbas oil on it will make life more bearable. Best wishes whatever happens Janet, I am sure some of the lovely considerate people that use this site will have advice for you.
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    • Posted

      Hi David, yes I thought that yesterday to go and live in the Hebrides or some lonely island in Scotland, but it is not possible. A mask....... I have just replied to Sam about them. Walking around I do wear a scarf, and did the same on the bus yesterday so will continue with this and then perhaps either spray it with disinfectant or wash it regularly. A face mask is difficult unless others are doing it or you know people very well. Olbas oil and I don't get on. I inhale steam or sometimes put a spot of friars balsaam in the water. Thanks for the tip though I could try a bit of olabas oil on the scarf. I will think of you by the sea today. Thank you for your help. Certainly have been given a lot of food for thought.

      Best wishes Janet 

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  • Posted

    Hi Janet . I have had bronchiectasis for a few years now. And have had many chest infections . The best thing I find is doing your physio every day to bring the mucus up so it doesn't become infected. I know that you can still catch infections but think this does help to avoid it. Also I always carry antibacterial gel in my bag , and forever wiping my hands with it to kill germs on my hands as this too can cause you to pick up infections.  Hope this helps you. 
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    • Posted

      Hi Jackie,

      Thank you. Yes I try and get the mucus up daily, but it is a problem. The physio gave me a 'flutter' to try but have not had much success. Sometimes I can lie down for over 1 hour doing the physio and next to nothing comes up. I will get some antibacterial gel and carry it around with me. Thank you again.

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    • Posted

      Hi Janet,

      agree with Jackie. get to see a physio and learn how to do the exercises which will help you clear your lungs.

      It makes a huge difference. Your lung function will improve and you wil get less infections.

      Exercise trasnformed my life.

      Good luck.

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  • Posted

    Hi Janet, really it comes down to two things.

    Firstly, wash your hands ... a lot! To give you an example, I have four kids, three  through eleven, and the consultant told me to wash my hands every time I touch the kids. Now obviously that's not entirely practical, but it gives you the drift. Jackie's idea of some antibacterial gel is a good idea.

    Second, clear out the gunk in your lungs ruthlessly. That's where the bugs breed. That's where they can hide from the antibiotics - quite literally, inside the gunk. That's why it's so important. Have you been taken through the different methods of clearing your lungs? Active cycle of breathing / huffing/ various mechanical options etc? If not, here on the forum we can certainly help with that.

     With regard to face masks, those anti pollution masks don't do much in terms of keeping out the bugs. Really you need proper, fitted, high filtration masks for that. Surgical masks are really for keeping phlegm, saliva, snot etc from surgeons off the patient, rather than protecting the surgeon from floating bacteria.

    Luck!

    Sam

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    • Posted

      Hi Sam,

      I get your drift about hand washing! Only a cat to be concerned over so will try and remember to wash my hands when I have handled him.

      As I said to Jackie, the 'gunk' is a real issue. The most effective is the Active cycle of breathing with the huffing, but even that is not good. Just been given a 'flutter' but so far not effective. I have found robust cleaning does it best, but I have a back problem so cannot do this on a daily basis.

      Face masks? That is one I will have to think about a lot. Alright in my home and with friends I know, but anywhere else .......

      Thank you Sam wished I had come on the site months ago, as you are all telling me things it has taken me months to discover!

      Best wishes Janet

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    • Posted

      Hi Janet

      One more thing about active cycle- a tip that I got from a physio at the Brompton. Don't huff. Go really really slow. So when you do the big exhale, rather than a huff, open your mouth really wide and exhale as slowly as you can. As you do you will feel a good rattle. Leave it, keep doing big slow breaths unto you absolutely and completely have to cough. I think you'll find that changing too big and slow rather than huff really helps things come up. Certainly I really surprised myself!

      If you combine this with a good wiggle of your torso / change your position (even lie down and do it on each side), you can get a lot of stuff up. You're finished when there's no more rattle.

      Good luck!

      S

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    • Posted

      Thanks again Sam. Have really concentrated today and it seems a bit better coming up. I will try the good wiggle and lying on each side.

      Janet

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  • Posted

    The advice on regular hand washing is very true. While it will not help the Bx per se, what it will do is reduce those infections, colds and flu so easily caught from others. These are particularly dangerous for Bx sufferers.

    Additionally keep some antiseptic hand cleaning gel in your pocket or bag and use it regularly when hand washing is not easy. These days, these are so commonplace. Pharmacies, supermarkets, even by the check out at M&S, they are economical and pocketable. Find one that has a preferable smell. They are especially useful after travelling by public transport. Those hand holds can be germ laden and there will not be handy washing facilities. Avoid too, as far as possible, touching your own face and avoid people with obvious upper respiratory infections. The poster was true. Coughs and sneezes do spread diseases.

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    • Posted

      Thank you, but what is Bx?

      I do wear gloves to keep my hands warm. Does this mean I have to wash my gloves every day or can I spray with disinfectant (have a good one) then wash once in a while? It is avoiding the people with obvious respiratory infections I find very difficult.

      Best wishes Janet

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  • Posted

    Bx is only my ( and others) shorthand for bronchiectasis. When I type that, my IPad tries hard to change it to bronchi ecstasies which must be a completely different issue, and whatever it is, rather different to the misery of Bx and the alternative, recognised only to Apple. Part of my reasoning for the abbreviation is that it avoids missing the self correction.

    Bugs survive on all surfaces for varying times and that will include gloves. The warmth of gloves might give a longer lifespan. Disinfection will work but I suggest both sides unless they have an impermeable surface eg leather. The gels might make leather less supple but will do no real harm. Remember though to gel between the fingers. On hand washing many people may not wash hands thoroughly enough. I almost never see anyone in a public toilet washing thoroughly enough. A quick rinse does not suffice. If you google NHS hand washing you should find authoritative sources and diagrams. 

    Keeping reasonably fit and avoiding infection is one of the best measures in managing Bx

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    • Posted

      Thank you. I will disinfect my gloves from now on. My hands are always given a thorough wash as I was shown a few year ago. The frequency is my problem.

      Now I know what Bx is thanks also for that.

      Janet

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  • Posted

    Hi Janet, I have had bronchiectasis for 55 years now and although as a child I was advised to do tippings(physio over  side of bed) I havent done for many years.Mybx is limited to 1 lower lobe so probably very mild but I do bring up a lot of gunk which I just swallow mostly because it is embarrassing trying to find a tissue quickly.I have had chest infections and once had a severe haemoptosis(coughing up blood) which was scary because it happened during the night.I was frightened that it was something else.Now I have a box of amoxicillin at home but have not had to use frequently.Sometimes not even once during a whole year.I get flu jabs each year and the pneumonia jab..

    I wouldnt go over the top with alcohlic jels which will probably dry your hands out.Any bacteria on your skin will not normally do you any harm because your defences will know that it is yours.Washing your hands as suggested on nhs website is mainly to stop nurses passing bacteria to patients. Be sensible when meeting other people but if you try to prevent getting infections too much your immunne system will not be challenged and as soon as you drop your guard you will become susceptable to everything. These are some of my thoughts but I am just giving some advice as to how Ihave coped with this uncurable chronic condition and you will find your own balance from all the wonderful advice on this forum.. By the way I work as a registered nurse and was full time for 45 years.I add those bits because I have been exposed to thousands of pathogenic bacteria in lots of very differing places.(I worked as a district nurse).

    Good luck and just try to keep well.

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    • Posted

      Good to hear from a long term sufferer. Do you have frothy salvia? Sometimes it has green mucus in it but a lot of the time it is just white froth. I never used to have it, but now most of the time. What is this? Have looked on the internet, but it is not very helpful.

      Janet

       

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    • Posted

      Dear Janet

      Would you mean "saliva" or sputum when you cough? Mine isnt frothy but normally should be white .I tend to have grey  but occasionally it has been slightly green which unfortunatally heralds an infection.If there is an infection it would be copious and probably different taste(sorry doesnt sound pleasant but then when discussing these things it never is) 

      The pneumonia vaccination is specific to a pneumonia or infection caused by the pneumacocus bacteria so will not cover against viruses.The flu vaccine helps against 3 types (strains) of influenza which the World Health Organisation reccomend are prevalent in our part of the world.Luckily I have only had flu about 4-5 times in 40 years but it is more severe than a cold. Colds cause a lot of runny noses and cattarrh for deveral days but flu causes fever which if you take paracetamol is good for 2-3 hours and then the shivering comes back.The best thing with flu is go to bed with the shivering and keep warm until the paracetamol has worked.

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    • Posted

      Hi Janet, in answer to your saliva point: like Charles says, what you're looking at is sputum i.e. Stuff up from your lungs as opposed to the natural stuff in your mouth.

      The colour and consistency of your sputum will change depending on what's going on in your lungs. It should be nice and clear. If you're generating too much / it's thickening up then you get frothy. This we call mucoid. You then may see flecks of green stuff - that's basically pus and the dead bacterial cells - moving on to a creamy then creamy green consistency (muco-purulent). Then it becomes straight green and sludgy (purulent) then more browny green (which probably shows some bleeding as well) and finally really quite dark brown.

      If you Google "bronchiectasis  chss " (chest  heart stroke Scotland) then there is a pdf listed (fourth Google entry for me) by chss about Bx. It's very good and has a colour chart (yup, just like a Dulux colour chart) that shows the different stages. Effectively the colour shows the profession of infection.

      If you are white with froth, you are enviably healthy. Flecks of green, got a bit of an infection, not too much to worry about but you should keep an eye on it.

      Hope that helps!

      S

       

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    • Posted

      Dear Charles

      Thank you for clearing up that the frothy stuff is sputum.

      I have had a pnemonia vaccination and have the flu one every year. Flu I have had about 4 times in my life. 'Walking pneumonia' quite a number of times, never one that has put me into bed!! Although last year I was told it was a chest infection (coughing up blood, and the rest) I had to go to bed with this. In fact I thought at times this was the end.

      Janet

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    • Posted

      Hi Sam

      Thanks to you and Charles I now know the white froth is sputum. I have looked at the site you suggested and it will be very useful.

      The stages of infection you and the site describe I am getting at the moment, but in various colours of green/brown with pink/red which I know is blood from the past. I have an infection yes, but even when I have not got one I never cough up just white sputum when doing my breathing/coughing it always is light green at the best of times. This is even when taking the regular antibiotic (3 times a week). With me i think the only time i really know about a 'serious infection' is when I cough up blood - red, pink, brown or rusty coloured.

      Thank you though for being so helpful and clear about everything I am very grateful.

      Janet

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    • Posted

      Dear Janet pneumonia is a very vague diagnosis which is just a chest infection but severe.GPs probably dont always like to use the word pneumonia when talking about a chest infection because it would put the fear of God into most.My sputum is not clear or white excepting recently when I was in hospital with an unrelated(surgery for CABG) and I was having antibiotics. If you feel poorly with the sputum then is the time for antibiotics but dont leave it too long .  
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    • Posted

      Hi I am a Respiratory Therapist and I am looking for a job but I am very worry to make my brochiectasis disease worse from expose my lung to different pathology . And also I do not know if any employer will hire me after find out about my health problem please help because I am so tired from working minimum wage job
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