What are the Basics of Bronchiectasis?

Q:
What are the basics of bronchiectasis?

A:
Bronchiectasis occurs when the bronchial tubes of your lungs are permanently damaged, widened and thickened. In that case, bacteria and mucus may pile up in your lungs easily, causing infections and blockages of the airways.

At present, there’s no cure for bronchiectasis. However, the condition is manageable. With proper treatment and extra care to flare-ups, you can prevent worsen the situation.

Causes

Lung injuries leads to bronchiectasis.

Overall, there are two main categories of this condition. One is related to cystic fibrosis (CF), which is a genetic condition. It typically causes abnormal production of mucus.

The other is a non-CF bronchiectasis.  Common conditions that may cause the disease include:

  • An abnormally functioning immune system
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • HIV
  • Allergic aspergillosis
  • Lung infections

Symptoms

Symptoms of bronchiectasis can take a long period of time to develop, sometimes months and even years. Typical symptoms may include:

  • Chronic daily cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Coughing up lots of mucus daily
  • Breathing with abnormal wheezing in the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Respiratory infections

Treatment

For people with bronchiectasis, treatment plays an important role. Though the disease is not curable, treatment is critial to keep the conditions under control.

There are various common ways to treat bronchiectasis:

  • Breathing exercises and chest physiotherapy to clear the airways
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Use antibiotics to prevent infection
  • Use bronchodilators to open up airways
  • Take medications to thin mucus
  • Take expectorants and help coughing up mucus
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Inject vaccinations to prevent respiratory infections

Keywords: bronchiectasis; causes; symptoms; treatment; Q&A

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