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Having cold, sore throat and bronchitis. No change after taking antibiotics. Reason?

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Infectious Diseases Specialist
Practicing since : 2002
Answered : 877 Questions
Hi, I am quite frankly terrified. I am 58, female, 140 lbs, 5'2" and have smoked for over 36 years. Six weeks ago I developed a head cold and then bronchitis (main symptoms cough and wheezing), for which I was given anti-biotics. These seemed to work, although I suffered from residual catarrh in my throat. On a review appointment a week later, my chest was clear and my oxygen saturation level 99%. However, just over a week ago I developed another cold and really severe sore throat. This has passed but the bronchial symptoms re-emerged and I've been prescribed more anti-biotics, although the doctor said my chest seemed clear. No other symptoms. I've been referred for a chest x-ray and am freaking out. I'm relatively fit and eat healthily but am really worried because of the smoking. My anxiety levels, always high, are going through the roof. Would appreciate your thoughts and advice. Many thanks. XXXX
Posted Tue, 26 Nov 2013 in Lung and Chest disorders
Answered by Dr. Roopa Hiremath 58 minutes later
Brief Answer: Please wait for Chest Xray Detailed Answer: Hi Ms. XXXXXXX Thanks for choosing health care magic for your query. I have gone through your query and I understand your concern regarding persisting symptoms. In your case I am suspecting inadequately treated upper respiratory tract infection which has later spread to the lower respiratory tract leading to bronchitis. Your doctor is right in prescribing antibiotics to clear the infection completely. Chest x XXXXXXX has been prescribed to rule out lung involvement. I would suggest you continue with the antibiotic treatment and wait for the chest x XXXXXXX results. Smoking definitely predisposes to lung diseases like chronic bronchitis and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Smokers also respond inadequately to the antibiotic treatment and take longer than non smokers to clear respiratory infections. I do not want to increase your anxiety but quitting smoking will definitely improve your health. For now, please wait for the X XXXXXXX results and let your treating doctor decide the next course of action based on that. Please get back if I can assist you further. Thanks.
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Follow-up: Having cold, sore throat and bronchitis. No change after taking antibiotics. Reason? 48 minutes later
Many thanks for your quick response. I have already discussed a quit-smoking programme with the doctor and will commence that after I complete the current course of antibiotics. Obviously I'm concerned about the possibility of lung cancer and was wondering what the odds were, based on the other information I gave. I'm not sure how meaningful a "clear sounding" chest and the oxygen saturation results (which seemed good) are. XXXX
Answered by Dr. Roopa Hiremath 14 hours later
Brief Answer: Cancer less likely... Detailed Answer: Dear XXXXXXX Welcome back. I would like to elaborate on lung cancer and smoking for you before I answer your question. One fourth of lung cancer patients do not present with any symptoms and usually get diagnosed by chest x XXXXXXX performed for some other reason. The remaining three fourths have symptoms of lung cancer which include: Cough (coughing up blood) Fatigue Unexplained weight loss Recurrent respiratory infections Hoarseness New wheezing Shortness of breath You do not seem to be having any of these symptoms. Therefore I would say, I don't feel you are dealing with lung cancer per se yet. But I would still stand by my previous answer to wait for X XXXXXXX results and then decide. Since you have been smoking for more than 20 years, you are at risk to develop lung problems; however it doesn't seem to be cancer yet. I appreciate your attitude to quit smoking as soon as possible. It would be great if you could upload your X-ray results on the link provided on the web page to help me assist you further. Thanks.
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Follow-up: Having cold, sore throat and bronchitis. No change after taking antibiotics. Reason? 9 hours later
Thank you again. Chest X-ray is next Tuesday - it's an anxious time! XXXX
Answered by Dr. Roopa Hiremath 15 minutes later
Brief Answer: Please upload Xray results Detailed Answer: Hi Ms. XXXXXXX Please do not worry unnecessarily and do not forget to upload the results. Wishing you all the luck. Thanks.
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