I've been having problems with shortness of breath lately. It started when I had a cold about a month ago, and at the time I thought it was due to sinus congestion. I had a pretty bad sinus infection and an ear infection and was on a ceftin derivative for 14 days to clear that up. Through this the shortness of breath persisted. I also tend to have anxiety problems when it comes to my health, so I convinced myself that I was just worrying too much and went on with my life.
On thanksgiving day my shortness of breath got much worse, coincidentally this was the day after I had finished my course of antibiotics. I have been smoking for about 4 years and I got fed up and decided to quit right then. The next morning I bought the patch and have been smoke free the last 12 days. Unfortunately the shortness of breath still persists, and immediately after quitting smoking I developed a productive cough that brings up clumps of brown gunk. I had heard that quitting will often make you short of breath and create a productive cough as your lungs heal, so I didn't think too much of it.
I went in to get my allergy shot yesterday and when they took my temperature they found it to be 99.1 (I am normally around 97.5). They asked if I felt ok and I mentioned I still had shortness of breath and that now that I think about it, I have been feeling pretty tired and weak lately. I've had a few moments as well when I'm suddenly feeling very flushed and nasueated. Overall though I have not really felt bad, just not really good either. I talked to my doctor and he looked at blood test results from the previous week (routine bloodwork/cholesterol check) and saw that I had an elevated white cell count. Not dangerously high but definately above normal. He listened to my lungs and said he heard some air trapping.
His conclusion was that I have bronchitis and that the elevated white cell count pointed to a bacterial infection. He said that the ceftin class antibiotics don't target atypical bugs that well and it might not have been able to knock it out, so he gave me a 5 day course of Tequin, a 3rd gen cipro derivative. After that if I'm not doing better, he said we'll go do some x-rays and go from there.
Does this all sound plausible? I mean, my concern is that when I've had bacterial infections before, I usually feel really bad. High fever, general malaise, that feeling that death wouldn't be that bad... Is it possible to just have a mild bacterial infection that leaves you feeling not so great but doesn't knock you out? The other thing that concerns me is that the shortness of breath has been going on for a month and survived a 14 day course of ceftin...
I had a chest X-Ray last spring that was normal, and I did a peak flow test a few months ago that was normal, but since I just quit smoking my lung health is on my mind and makes me wonder if I waited too long to quit smoking... I'm only 27 and have smoked half a pack a day for less than 4 years, theoretically it is unlikely that I have done any permenent damage, but you never know...
I have had many infections (sinus/upper respiratory) over the last two years and I never get a fever with them. I usually feel run down but not in bed sick. The only antibiotic that has seemed to work for me has been Levaquin. So I do think it is plausible that you do have an infection.
As far as the shortness of breath goes, I can relate to how you feel about it possibly being anxiety. I was going through a spell of shortness of breath three years back and chalked it up to being under a lot of stress at work. Then I got run down and sick and the shortness of breath never went away. To make a very long story short, I ended up having idiopathic subglottic stenosis. Basically scar tissue growing in my trachea for some unknown reason. The scar tissue can be caused by chronic upper respiratory infections, reflux, being intubated, and certain autoimmune diseases. If you suffer from heartburn at all, it can be irritating to your throat and cause shortness of breath. Reflux can also be a cause of sinus infections. I guess what I am really trying to get at is this.... be persistent about it. If your new antibiotics don't do the trick for you, press your doctor for other tests. Many different things can cause shortness of breath from heart issues to lung issues to thyroid issues. You are your own best advocate. And keep up the great work concerning the smoking.
Brown gunk does most definitely indicate an infection. Go hack some up in a cup for your doctor to figure out the best antibiotic to kill it since the stuff you used last time must not have worked on it.
Not to scare you, but your symptoms are similar to mine. I have MAC (Mycrobacterium Avium Complex, see other MAC posts). I started out with a lung X-ray which showed nodules, possible lung problems, followed up by a lung scan. The lung scan showed other areas of concern. My pulmonary doc thought I had MAC (bacterial lung infection) but would watch it and not put me on meds unless future lung scans showed the bacteria increasing, it did. I had a bronchosopy (sampling of lung fluid, biopsy) and the bacterial infection was confirmed. It is a bug hard to get rid of and requires long term antibiotic therapy. I have been on 4 antibiotics for seven months and have at least five to go. Antibiotic therapy is needed for 12-18 months to get rid of it. Good luck!! You may not have MAC but that is a possibility. Good luck.