Managing chest infections

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Managing chest infections

How to minimise the impact of chest infections with medication and other approaches

Even when you have taken measures to reduce the risk of chest infections they can still happen. Having a weakened cough and breathing due to MND/ALS means it won’t be as easy to shake off a chest infection as before. So how can you manage it effectively?

See your GP or care team as soon as possible. They can give you antibiotics to help tackle it. Take the full course. Go back if it worsens or does not go away. They may adjust the dosage of any medications you are taking to manage secretions (mucus and saliva).

If you get frequent chest infections they may give you a supply of antibiotics to keep at home, to start as soon as you recognise the symptoms. Symptoms can include a chesty cough with yellow or green mucus, increased shortness of breath and a fever.

Top tip:  Your GP can supply a Just in Case Kit. It has emergency medications to take if you experience sudden breathlessness while you wait for help to come.

If you have a chest infection use breath stacking or a cough assist device (see Keeping Your Chest Clear) often through the day. This will help shift the mucus upwards and out of your lungs. Do this whenever you feel the need to cough and frequently in between too.

If you use ventilation this will also help you to recover from a chest infection. You can use it for longer and in the daytime for extra support. For example, it may help to use NIV for a while before having a bath or shower to give you a bit of a boost.