What is bronchiectasis?
Bronchiectasis is a chronic lung condition in which the bronchi (tube-like passageways that transfer air within the lungs) get permanently damaged and widened. Any condition that causes narrowing or damage to the airways can result in bronchiectasis. Around 350,000 to 500,000 people in the United States have bronchiectasis. It is more common in women than in men and the risk of bronchiectasis increases with age in both genders.
Bronchiectasis is more common in women than in men. There are many causes of bronchiectasis, but the condition is most commonly caused by an infection of the airways. Around 40 percent of cases of bronchiectasis have no apparent cause. Such cases are called idiopathic bronchiectasis. Often, repeated infections result in bronchiectasis. These include
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
- Tuberculosis and non-tuberculosis mycobacterium (NTM) infections
Other causes of bronchiectasis include
- Cystic fibrosis (a genetic condition)
- Aspiration (a condition that causes swallowing problems resulting in the entry of liquids or solids into the airways)
- Autoimmune diseases
- Congenital or birth defects of the airways
- Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA, a lung condition caused by severe allergic reaction following exposure to the fungus called Aspergillus)
- Immunodeficiency disorders (such as human immunodeficiency virus [HIV] and diabetes)
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD)
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (a deficiency of an airway protecting substance called alpha-1 antitrypsin)
- Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
- Primary ciliary dyskinesia (a condition affecting the function of the protective hair-like projections or cilia within the airways)
- Exposure to toxic gases
- Connective tissue disorders
What are the symptoms of bronchiectasis?
Bronchiectasis is a chronic or long-term condition. The symptoms typically develop gradually over months or years and become worse as the disease progresses. The two classical symptoms of bronchiectasis are cough and daily production of a lot of mucus or sputum. Other symptoms of this condition include
- Coughing upf yellowish or greenish sputum
- Blood-streaked sputum or hemoptysis (coughing out of blood)
- Shortness of breath that generally worsens during flare-ups
- Fever with or without chills
- Noisy breathing or wheezing (a whistling sound when the person breathes)
- Fatigues easily (getting tired easily)
- Chest pain or discomfort during breathing
- Clubbing (thickening of the skin under the nails giving the fingertips an abnormal, rounded appearance)
- Weight loss
- Growth may be slowed down in children with bronchiectasis
What is the best treatment for bronchiectasis?
Bronchiectasis is a serious condition. In the absence of proper treatment, it can progress to cause permanent lung damage, leading to conditions such as respiratory and heart failure.
The treatment targets include improving symptoms, controlling flare-ups, improving the quality of life and reducing the development of complications. The treatment mainly comprises
- Management of underlying health conditions
- Antibiotics to treat infections
- Mucus-thinning medications
- Bronchodilators to widen the airways and allow better movement of air
- Chest physiotherapy and airway clearance devices such as oscillating positive expiratory pressure (PEP) and intrapulmonary percussive ventilation (IPV)
- Getting the necessary vaccinations (such as pneumococcal vaccines)
Your doctor may also suggest lifestyle changes such as
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top What Is the Most Common Cause of Bronchiectasis Related Articles
How Long Is Pneumonia Contagious?Pneumonia may be contagious for 2-14 days. Usually, the goal of medications given for pneumonia is to limit the spread of the disease.
Is Pneumonia Contagious?Pneumonia is inflammation of the lung usually caused by bacterial or viral infection (rarely, also by fungi) that causes the air sacs to fill with pus. If inflammation affects both lungs, the infection is termed double pneumonia. If it affects one lung, it is termed single pneumonia. If it affects only a certain lobe of a lung it's termed lobar pneumonia. Most pneumonias are caused by bacteria and viruses, but some pneumonias are caused by inhaling toxic chemicals that damage lung tissue.
Is Tuberculosis (TB) Contagious?Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes tuberculosis (TB). TB may be transmitted when an infected person sings, sneezes, coughs, or talks. TB symptoms and signs include coughing bloody sputum, night sweats, severe cough, fever, chills, fatigue, and weight loss.
Whooping Cough (Pertussis)Whooping cough (pertussis) is highly contagious respiratory infection that is caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis. There are an estimated 300,000 plus deaths annually from whooping cough (pertussis). Whooping cough commonly affects infants and young children but can be prevented with immunization with the vaccine. First stage whooping cough symptoms are a runny nose, sneezing, low-grade fever, a mild cough with the cough gradually becoming more severe. After one to two weeks, the second stage of whooping cough begins.
Whooping CoughWhooping cough (bordetella pertussis) is a highly contagious bacterial infection. Read how vaccines and antibiotics could prevent whooping cough. Learn about the symptoms, causes, and treatment of whooping cough.
Pneumococcal Vaccination (Pneumonia Vaccine)Pneumococcal vaccination prevents one of the most common and severe forms of pneumonia. It is usually given only once in a lifetime, usually after the age of 55, to someone with ongoing lung problems (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma) or other chronic diseases (including those involving the heart and kidneys).
PneumoniaPneumonia is inflammation of the lungs caused by fungi, bacteria, or viruses. Symptoms and signs include cough, fever, shortness of breath, and chills. Antibiotics treat pneumonia, and the choice of the antibiotic depends upon the cause of the infection.
Do I Have Pneumonia QuizPneumonia can be deadly. Take the Pneumonia Quiz on MedicineNet to learn more about this highly contagious, infectious disease.
Tuberculosis (TB)Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). Symptoms and signs of TB include bloody sputum, fever, cough, weight loss, and chest pain. Treatment depends upon the type of TB infection.
Tuberculosis Skin Test (PPD Skin Test)The tuberculosis skin test is based on the fact that infection with M. tuberculosis produces a delayed-type hypersensitivity skin reaction to certain components of the bacterium. The standard recommended tuberculin test is administered by injecting 0.1mL of 5 TU (tuberculin units) PPD into the top layers of skin of the forearm. "Reading" the skin test means detecting a raised, thickened local area of skin reaction, referred to as induration. The area of induration (palpable, raised, hardened area) around the site of injection is the reaction to tuberculin.
What Are the Side Effects of the Pneumonia Vaccine?The pneumonia vaccine can help protect against pneumococcal infections. Learn what the pneumonia vaccine is all about, and what to do if you experience side effects.
What are the Three Major Causes of Pneumonia?Pneumonia is a lung infection that affects many people. Learn the signs of pneumonia, what causes it, how doctors diagnose it, and what you can do to treat it.