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Date of last update: 10/19/2017.

Forum Name: Asthma

Question: Asthmatic Bronchitis - 8 months & running.

 wintermoon - Wed Jan 14, 2009 11:17 pm

I'm writing for my partner, who has had coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and lack of energy for about eight months now. It was first diagnosed as bronchitis, and then eventually asthmatic bronchitis (once it reached the 3rd or 4th month of requiring albuterol, nebulizer treatments, and the 5th ER visit).

During this time, there have been at least two rounds of antibiotics (yes, we know bronchitis is rarely caused by bacteria and won't respond to antibiotics, but this is what the doctors wanted to do), two rounds of oral steroids (one srip of prednisone and one of something else), a shot of steroids, a couple steroid inhalers, continuous use of albuterol rescue inhalers, ER trips with breathing treatments, eventually a nebulizer was sent home with two different medications. She's also had acupuncture, used aromatherapy, and has begun taking some herbs prescribed by a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner.

Her doctors (general practitioner and pulmonologist) have done multiple x-rays, a CT scan, various blood tests, and a bronchioscopy in their attempts to rule out a number of other illnesses.

During all this time, she's gone back and forth from feeling horrible with no energy, lots of breathing trouble, and frequent coughing spells, to feeling fairly well and almost "normal", not to mention every stage in between.

After all this time, we're understandably quite frustrated every time her health takes another down turn, and would greatly appreciate any further advice or information you might be able to offer us. Does asthmatic bronchitis usually take this long to recover from? Is there anything else we can do? Is there anything else we should ask her doctors to do? (She's unemployed at the moment, largely because of this, and receives her medical care from the local Veteran's Administration.)

Thank you.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Thu Jan 15, 2009 11:55 pm

User avatar Hello -

I can certainly understand your frustration (and your partner's as well, of course). This problem can be infuriating, because it tends to be self-perpetuating, and unless the underlying cause can be determined. While the primary cause is often something relatively simple, like a deep sinus infection, it can also be some environmental contaminant (mold? excessive dust?) and the approach the doctors have taken in treating the symptoms of the obstructive symptoms actually makes sense and is consistent with what's normally done. The realy challenge is finding what triggers this, and that may require some detective work beyond the capability of the current medical help.

You might try taking note of what's going on or is in the environment when the problem flares up, and try to correlate these (if any are evident) with those times that the problem worsens. I realize this places an inordinate amount of responsibilithy on the patient (or the both of you), but this is typically a difficult problem to manage until and unless the cause can be found.

I hope this is at least somewhat helpful. Best of luck to you both, and please follow up with us as needed.

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