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When I Was Diagnosed With Bronchiectasis After Years of Chest Problems

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My name is Ken, and I have been diagnosed with bronchiectasis after years of chest problems. Ever since I was a child, I struggled with chest problems, including whooping cough and measles, etc. From then on I had more chest infections and other related problems, and at one stage, I had what they thought was industrial asthma. This was caused by working in a lot of industrial areas during my working life, using materials from asbestos and other products which are now classed as carcinogenic.

In the 1980s, things got so bad that I went from one chest infection to another, but nothing was done about it. Then in 2001, I was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. Nothing concrete came out of this, but it later came out that this hospital was closed down a few months after I had been in, because it was well below standard in more ways than one. Eventually in 2003, I had to retire early due to another illness, and then my wife and I moved back to my family home in the northeast, and I got more chest infections every year. They got worse each winter.

One year I saw a nurse practitioner who thought I had bronchiectasis but was unable to do anything without a doctor’s permission. Around two years later and after being on antibiotics for nearly four months, I told a family doctor that I had really had enough of taking medication that did not seem to clear a chest infection for very long. The doctor said he would then refer me to a chest clinic, as something was clearly wrong. I was then referred to see a chest consultant after chest X-rays showed I had COPD, along with a cracked rib, which could have been caused by coughing so much. I was then diagnosed as having bronchiectasis, but I was not given any information about it, apart from being told that my doctor could keep an eye on me. We then got a new family doctor and were amazed to find that he had spent time going back through my notes and found that all of the sputum tests had come back with the same results over the last eight years at least. This was the Haemophilus influenzae bug. So he said it had to be deep rooted in my lungs and I may never get rid of it.

I confess that the color of the rubbish coughed up is distressing on a morning, but we now have a nebulizer at home that helps remove some of this stuff each morning. It’s now down to me trying to keep on top of this with antibiotics and the nebulizer, coupled with walking in the fresh air each day. Walking on hilly streets can be hard, but if it all helps, then it’s worth it in the long run. I also now see a pulmonary nurse every few months, and she is monitoring me. I got a new smart phone last year and found some applications that monitor the air wherever I am, and this helps me steer clear of pollution, etc. So in many ways, I have now got myself set up and just have to keep myself going, and keeping as fit as I can, because it helps me.

Image via Thinkstock Images

Originally published: September 19, 2016
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