How susceptible we are to infections

Posted by @ling @wangling, Dec 21, 2022

Hi community,
A question constantly on my mind is how susceptible we are to infections with bronchiectasis condition? How dangerous would it be to get a cold or flu? Your insight and experience would be greatly appreciated.

Ling

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I can only comment on my own experience. Before I retired and before I was diagnosed with Bronchiectasis, I had frequent respiratory infections, including pneumonia and sinus infections. I worked in elementary schools, so was constantly exposed to sick children and small rooms with poor air quality. I once requested testing of the air, which identified mold. They told me it would be remedied over summer vacation! Because I have been super vigilant about exposure since COVID started and still wear a mask when in public, I have had very few infections. I also learned on my own of the importance of exercise, which made a huge difference. I have only been nebulizing albuterol and saline since last summer. I have always had problems with anxiety/stress and have to try to avoid allowing myself to overreact to situations over which I have no control, because that also tends to bring on exacerbation. This may be more than you wanted to know, but in general, get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, exercise, and avoid exposure to others who are contagious. Best of luck in your effort to stay healthy! Donna Turnbaugh

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I am also very interested in people's experience with this. Since my diagnosis, I have always worn a mask when I am indoors anywhere but home and I never dine indoors. This is obviously very limiting. Are there others out there who dine indoors but are able to stay well just with the daily airway clearance?

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We have NEVER dined indoors since my spouse’s diagnosis nor do we see anyone indoors in our home
unless we are certain they have been vigilant about exposure before our visits. We have become quite accustomed to this and realize the absolute necessity. Home is where the heart is in
this case.

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My husband & I are both in our 70's, with bronchiectasis & other health issues. Five years after diagnosis & 3 years after stopping antibiotic treatment I am still cautious – to a point.

By nature I am a very social person, always very active in whatever community I find myself in at the moment. During treatment and during pre-vaccine Covid, I was totally isolated unless masked. Even with my kids and grands, anyone with a cough or sniffle, or a hint of one, stayed away. Then Covid, and all social & volunteer activities ended, even family visits indoors. It was devastating to my mental and emotional health.

I began to wonder how to stay safe, and studied how viruses pass between people, and how to limit risk. I talked to my primary provider. I talked to my kids and husband. We gradually & carefully widened our circle, still mostly outdoors or masked when indoors. Then we & most of the people we know, got vaccinated. We learned a lot more about how Covid is passed. And it applies to most viruses. Risk is a combination of quantity of viral particles, proximity & time. The higher the density of particles (think close spaces), the closer you are to people (think sitting side by side through a play) and the longer you are near, the higher the risk.

Now, we assess the risk of each situation. We are fully vaccinated – Covid, flu, pneumonia & shingles. We gather socially outdoors with large groups, indoors with small groups. If we want to be at an event (kids' school concert, birthday party, etc) we wear a mask. If our "littles" are not feeling well, we still see them – fully masked and with lots of hand and surface washing. Little boys need their cuddles! (Note not if fever, vomiting or rash!) In stores we usually wear a mask if there are a lot of people (Christmas shopping at the mall, Walmart on a weekend) or it is a small shop (storefront, low ceilings) or we will be there for some time (major trip to Costco or supermarket.) We have been eating indoors in restaurants for over a year – if the tables are spaced out & we know they observe good sanitation practices.

I understand that how we live might not be the answer for everyone, but to be permanently isolated would my worst nightmare. My ID doc told me in early days of treatment to "assess the risks and live your life" so that is the philosophy we follow.
Sue

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I do airway clearance as my no.1 defence, I always mask in public places but Christmas scares me because of socialising in indoor spaces. Fortunately I'm in the Southern hemisphere so it's summer. Just had my pneumonia vaccination and keep up to date with all vaccinstions. I agree stress seems a trigger for me or it was a cold that no-one around me had that brought me back to my knees.
I'm on triple Antibiotic therapy so I feel fairly safe against the bacteria that are out to get me, but viruses – scary.

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@donnaturn

I can only comment on my own experience. Before I retired and before I was diagnosed with Bronchiectasis, I had frequent respiratory infections, including pneumonia and sinus infections. I worked in elementary schools, so was constantly exposed to sick children and small rooms with poor air quality. I once requested testing of the air, which identified mold. They told me it would be remedied over summer vacation! Because I have been super vigilant about exposure since COVID started and still wear a mask when in public, I have had very few infections. I also learned on my own of the importance of exercise, which made a huge difference. I have only been nebulizing albuterol and saline since last summer. I have always had problems with anxiety/stress and have to try to avoid allowing myself to overreact to situations over which I have no control, because that also tends to bring on exacerbation. This may be more than you wanted to know, but in general, get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, exercise, and avoid exposure to others who are contagious. Best of luck in your effort to stay healthy! Donna Turnbaugh

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donnaturn,
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It is very helpful. Thank you for the advice on exercises, diet, sleep and avoiding contagious people. I believe these are crucial.
Thanks again!
Ling

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@sueinmn

My husband & I are both in our 70's, with bronchiectasis & other health issues. Five years after diagnosis & 3 years after stopping antibiotic treatment I am still cautious – to a point.

By nature I am a very social person, always very active in whatever community I find myself in at the moment. During treatment and during pre-vaccine Covid, I was totally isolated unless masked. Even with my kids and grands, anyone with a cough or sniffle, or a hint of one, stayed away. Then Covid, and all social & volunteer activities ended, even family visits indoors. It was devastating to my mental and emotional health.

I began to wonder how to stay safe, and studied how viruses pass between people, and how to limit risk. I talked to my primary provider. I talked to my kids and husband. We gradually & carefully widened our circle, still mostly outdoors or masked when indoors. Then we & most of the people we know, got vaccinated. We learned a lot more about how Covid is passed. And it applies to most viruses. Risk is a combination of quantity of viral particles, proximity & time. The higher the density of particles (think close spaces), the closer you are to people (think sitting side by side through a play) and the longer you are near, the higher the risk.

Now, we assess the risk of each situation. We are fully vaccinated – Covid, flu, pneumonia & shingles. We gather socially outdoors with large groups, indoors with small groups. If we want to be at an event (kids' school concert, birthday party, etc) we wear a mask. If our "littles" are not feeling well, we still see them – fully masked and with lots of hand and surface washing. Little boys need their cuddles! (Note not if fever, vomiting or rash!) In stores we usually wear a mask if there are a lot of people (Christmas shopping at the mall, Walmart on a weekend) or it is a small shop (storefront, low ceilings) or we will be there for some time (major trip to Costco or supermarket.) We have been eating indoors in restaurants for over a year – if the tables are spaced out & we know they observe good sanitation practices.

I understand that how we live might not be the answer for everyone, but to be permanently isolated would my worst nightmare. My ID doc told me in early days of treatment to "assess the risks and live your life" so that is the philosophy we follow.
Sue

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DITTO for me Sue!
Merry Christmas 🎄
Dee

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It's interesting that this topic appeared today. I just asked my pulmonologist about this last week…telling him that after nearly 3 years of almost total isolation (and every vaccine known to man), I'm coming a little unhinged. His reply was to "live my life." However, the caveat was no indoor area with folks who aren't masked, i.e., restaurants, theaters, concerts, church, etc., and no outdoor areas where I might be in close contact with anyone. So how exactly does one live her life? My social interactions are with my doctors and the kind folks at Baggins who bring my sandwich to my car once a week. I have a lovely home, a Border collie best friend and companion, and a wonderful husband of nearly 40 years that I try not to pounce on when he walks in the door from the office. I have much to be grateful for – and I am! But I am worn out with this pandemic and worrying about exacerbating my already fragile lungs with another infection. Thanks for letting me vent – and Happy Holidays!

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@busybeans

It's interesting that this topic appeared today. I just asked my pulmonologist about this last week…telling him that after nearly 3 years of almost total isolation (and every vaccine known to man), I'm coming a little unhinged. His reply was to "live my life." However, the caveat was no indoor area with folks who aren't masked, i.e., restaurants, theaters, concerts, church, etc., and no outdoor areas where I might be in close contact with anyone. So how exactly does one live her life? My social interactions are with my doctors and the kind folks at Baggins who bring my sandwich to my car once a week. I have a lovely home, a Border collie best friend and companion, and a wonderful husband of nearly 40 years that I try not to pounce on when he walks in the door from the office. I have much to be grateful for – and I am! But I am worn out with this pandemic and worrying about exacerbating my already fragile lungs with another infection. Thanks for letting me vent – and Happy Holidays!

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Your instructions as to how to live with cautions are similar to ones we were given however you seem to be more energetic and in better health than my spouse. I posted earlier on this subject. The chronic coughing and chronic fatigue are such now that we couldn’t go inside anywhere. Hopefully that will improve once pulmonary rehab starts in Feb. but I still think we would adhere to our isolation because I see so few people with masks these days. I do go out to buy groceries and pick up meds and rarely see masks. Many who wear them fail to cover their noses.
Many aren’t vaxed because not politically correct here. Too risky for us at this juncture. Merry Christmas to everyone! 🎄

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@totty

Your instructions as to how to live with cautions are similar to ones we were given however you seem to be more energetic and in better health than my spouse. I posted earlier on this subject. The chronic coughing and chronic fatigue are such now that we couldn’t go inside anywhere. Hopefully that will improve once pulmonary rehab starts in Feb. but I still think we would adhere to our isolation because I see so few people with masks these days. I do go out to buy groceries and pick up meds and rarely see masks. Many who wear them fail to cover their noses.
Many aren’t vaxed because not politically correct here. Too risky for us at this juncture. Merry Christmas to everyone! 🎄

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For me it is about safety first. But everyone has to weigh the risks and rewards to their situation. I am 71 and have had Bronchiectasis for a couple of decades. Chronic Pseudomonas. Antibiotics are risky due to co morbidities. So all I have is prevention which includes natural remedies and avoiding contact. We pretty much just stay at home and especially during flu season! Pick up groceries in car ordered online. Everything else is mail ordered. No restaurants except to pick up take out. Vaccinated and masks in any encounter. Like busy beans I really count my blessings with a cozy home, great husband of 35 years, 2 very loved dogs. I would rather stick around for their sake than risk it. But that is just me. I am a bit of a recluse by nature anyway!

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