What is bronchiectasis?
Bronchiectasis is a condition where the bronchial tubes of your lungs are permanently damaged, widened, and thickened. These damaged air passages allow bacteria and mucus to build up and pool in your lungs. This results in frequent infections and blockages of the airways. Bronchiectasis is manageable, but it cannot be cured. With treatment, some patients can live a normal life.
Bronchiectasis can be Genetic (Cystic fibrosis), hereditary, due to infections, immune problems,etc
What are the symptoms?
- chronic daily cough
- coughing up blood
- abnormal sounds or wheezing in the chest with breathing
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- coughing up large amounts of thick mucus every day
- weight loss
- thickening of the skin under your nails and toes, known as clubbing
- frequent respiratory infections
How is bronchiectasis diagnosed?
Your doctor will listen to your lungs to check for any abnormal sounds or evidence of airway blockage. You’ll likely need a complete blood test to look for infection and anemia. Other tests may include:
- sputum test to check your mucus for viruses or bacteria
- chest X-ray or CT scan to provide images of your lungs
- pulmonary function tests to find out how well air is flowing into your lungs
The main goal of treatment is to keep infections and bronchial secretions under control. It’s also critical to prevent further obstructions of the airways and minimize lung damage. Common methods include
- methods for clearing the airways (like breathing exercises and chest physiotherapy)
- pulmonary rehabilitation
- antibiotics to prevent and treat infection
- medications to thin mucus
- expectorants to aid in coughing up mucus
- oxygen therapy
- vaccinations to prevent respiratory infections