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Billie asked...

I had a lower respiratory tract infection at the start of December...

Hello, I had a lower respiratory tract infection at the start of December and took antibiotics for around two and a half weeks. Since then I have gotten a lot better, my fever is gone, my cough has reduced and my peak flow meter readings have gone up from 250 to 400 (my usual reading is around 450). I had a chest x ray on 12th December and was told there was a small infection on my right lung but it was already getting a lot better and to take antibiotics for 7 more days, which I did. On 13th December there was a sudden death in my family, which has caused me a lot of anxiety and stress and upset. I wanted to ask how long it usually takes to fully recover from these infections? I feel a lot better but am still wheezing a bit (especially at morning and night), am coughing up sputum a few times a day and have some back pain and breathlessness when I exert myself. Is this normal? I only stopped antibiotics around a week and a half ago. Many thanks, Billie

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The answer

Thank you for contacting us with your questions. We're sorry to hear of the problems you have been having, The symptoms you describe of pain in your back and breathlessness after exertion more usually aren’t experienced once a chest infection has been resolved, however, there is possibly some residual inflammation of the airways or lung tissue- known as the pleura- that will have been caused by the infection you had contributing to these symptoms. Wheezing occasionally can persist for slightly longer due to secretions still being cleared by the airways in the lungs, provided they are not yellow or green and accompanied by a fever then this should disappear over several weeks. However, I do feel that a further check up could be necessary to ensure that the infection has been completely erased, it is possible that there is still some infection lingering which could explain your ongoing symptoms and an appointment with your Gp would seem sensible to discuss your ongoing issues. They will be able to listen to your chest and ideally arrange a further Chest Xray or scan to check that your lungs are completely clear. They may also arrange blood tests to be taken for indicators of inflammation for example and peak flow testing in addition. In the meantime try to ensure that you maintain a good fluid intake to ensure any secretions that remain are thinned and not sticky, warm fluids can help with fresh lemon juice just as one example and avoid over exerting yourself if possible until you have been given the all clear from your Gp.

We do hope this information will be helpful and wish you the best of luck in getting this resolved.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses